The Raymond Queneau Collection includes manuscripts, research notes, correspondence,
programs, posters, offprints, clippings, and third-party works documenting the
professional life of the French writer. Best known for Zazie
dans le métro (made into a film by Louis Malle) and Exercises de style, Queneau had a long and distinguished
career as a versatile and influential writer, editor at Gallimard publishing house,
director of Encyclopédie de la Pleiade, and member of
the Académie Goncourt. The materials are arranged in three series: I. Works, II.
Correspondence, and III. Third-party Works.
The Works series is subdivided by genre: Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry and Songs, and
Translations and Adaptations. Much of the nonfiction materials concern Queneau's
research and writing in the 1930s for a projected book on "fous littéraires,"
"literary crackpots" in nineteenth-century France. Included are research notes
on slips of paper in the Bibliothèque Nationale, compilations of notes on particular
individuals, an extensive manuscript, and a condensed version that he titled Aux confins des ténèbres: Les "fous littéraires" français du
XIXe siècle, which was published posthumously in 2002. In addition,
Queneau worked some of this research material into his novel, Les enfants du limon. The nonfiction subseries also includes
manuscripts of several articles written for the monthly review Volontés that were later reprinted in Le voyage en Grèce (1973), and various other short
pieces, including notes on the study of the Hebrew language. Of special interest
a manuscript notebook titled "The Little
Cyclopædia" containing Queneau's notes on reading James Joyce's Ulysses.
The Fiction subseries includes manuscripts for Le
chiendent (1933; Queneau's first published novel),
Les enfants du limon (1938), and the three parts of Les œuvres complètes de Sally Mara: On est toujours trop bon
avec les femmes (1947), Journal intime de Sally
Mara (1950), and Sally plus intime
(1962). There is also a copy of Barbara Wright's English radio adaptation of Exercises de style (1947).
Among the items in the Poetry and Songs subseries is the manuscript of Queneau's
earliest poem, "Les derniers jours," written when
he was fourteen. There is also a computer printout, credited to Queneau, of one
the 100 trillion possible permutations of his Cent mille
milliards de poèmes (1961).
The Translations and Adaptations subseries includes the manuscripts of Queneau's
translation and radio adaptation of George du Maurier's novel Peter Ibbetson.
All manuscripts are handwritten unless otherwise specified.
Letters from Queneau to three correspondents make up the Correspondence series. Those
to Georges Pelorson, editor of Volontés, are the most
numerous, consisting of fourteen letters, notes, and postcards. There is also
single brief letter to William Saroyan mentioning their common friend Henry Miller,
and a letter to an unidentified correspondent concerning the artist Joan Miró.
The Third-party Works series includes printed and manuscript works by other writers,
and posters and other promotional materials for films, stage performances, and
exhibitions related to Queneau's work. In this series is a collection of letters,
entitled by Queneau "Hétéroclites," addressed to
Gallimard staff by writers hoping to have manuscripts (sometimes included) published
by that house. Also here are printed and manuscript materials removed from books
that were in Queneau's library; the items have been sleeved with a photocopy of
title page of the book from which they were taken. Several items in the Third-Party
Works series are associated with writer Anne Argela and her husband, writer Marcel
Jullian, and have no apparent connection with Queneau, but were included with
rest of the archive; the miscellaneous folder at the end of the series contains
material connected with Argela and also includes correspondence between officials
the Librairie Académique and the Imprimerie des Coopératives Réunies concerning
works of T. Combe.