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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Flight of Icarus

Raymond Queneau

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To purchase The Flight of Icarus

Title: The Flight of Icarus
Author: Raymond Queneau
Genre: Novel
Written: 1968 (Eng. 1973)
Length: 192 pages
Original in: French
Availability: The Flight of Icarus - US
The Flight of Icarus - UK
The Flight of Icarus - Canada
Le vol d'Icare - Canada
The Flight of Icarus - India
Le vol d'Icare - France
Icaro involato - Italia
  • Translated by Barbara Wright
  • French title: Le vol d'Icare

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Our Assessment:

A- : a slight but clever literary game, very entertaining

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
New Statesman . 13/7/1973 John Sturrock
The New Yorker . 25/2/1974 John Updike
TLS . 3/8/1973 .

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The complete review's Review:

       Queneau has come up with a charming premise for his novel, set in Paris in the fin de siècle 1890's. The French author Hubert has begun writing a novel, only to have his main character -- Icarus -- disappear. Not just metaphorically, but physically. And so off Hubert goes, in search of his character. Pirandellian one of the characters calls his dilemma, as it indeed it is. And Queneau has Pirandellian fun with it.
       Told in the form of a drama, in 74 short chapters (or scenes), the misadventures of Icarus, an unformed innocent, and Hubert, who keeps searching for Icarus in all the wrong places are recounted. There's a great deal of clever literary play here, commentary on both the Aesthetes of the late 1800's and modern fiction, and Queneau has any number of literary tricks up his sleeve. It's all exceptionally well done, with many a twist to it, and a great deal of fun. Barbara Wright's translation also manages to capture the playfulness of the original very well.
       It is a slight book -- an entertainment -- but it is also a very good one. Strongly recommended.

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The Flight of Icarus: Reviews: Raymond Queneau: Other books by Raymond Queneau under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Oulipo books under review
  • See Index of French literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       French author Raymond Queneau (1903-1976) is one of the most influential figures in modern French literature. He was General Secretary of the publisher Gallimard, and one of the founders of the Oulipo.

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