Synopses & Reviews
Part novel and part autobiography, The Great Fire of London is one of the great literary undertakings of the last fifty years. At various times exasperating, daunting, moving, dazzling, and challenging, it has its origins in Jacques Roubaud's attempt to come to terms with the death of his young wife Alix, whose presence both haunts and gives meaning to every page. Having failed to write his intended novel ("The Great Fire of London"), instead he creates a book that is about that failure, but in the process opens up the world of the creative process, which is at once an attempt to bring order to his ravaged personal life and to construct an intricate literary project that functions according to strict rules, one of them being the palindrome. Roubaud's novel stands as a lyrical counterpart to those great postmodern masterpieces by fellow Oulipian writers Georges Perec (Life: A User's Manual) and Italo Calvino (If on a Winter's Night a Traveler).