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Raymond Queneau (Havre, Seine Maritime, February 21, 1903 – Paris, October 25, 1976) was a French writer, poet and novelist, co-founder of OuLiPo, a member of the College of Pataphysics and director of the Encyclopédie de la Pléiade.
Raymond Queneau was the only son of Auguste Queneau and Joséphine Mignot. Graduated in 1919 in Latin and Greek, he moved to study at the Sorbonne in Paris where he studied both mathematics and letters. He graduated in philosophy and psychology. There he was attracted by the surrealist movement.
After a trip to Greece in 1932, he began to reflect on the differences between the languages spoken and the written languages, divergence evident in Greek but also in French. These reflections were reflected in various articles on the “neo-French” and he used them in his novels. He wrote his first novel Le Chiendent, published in 1933.
He lived from his work as a journalist, doing small jobs, and then, from 1938, from his collaboration with the publishing house Gallimard where he was a translator, reader, member of the reading committee, among others.
After the liberation, he also frequented the Saint-Germain-des-Prés media. His poem Si tu t’imagines, played by Joseph Kosma on the initiative of Jean-Paul Sartre, was a great success of Juliette Gréco. Other of his poems were interpreted by the vocal quartet Les Frères Jacques. He wrote scripts for musical comedies and dialogues of various films such as Monsieur Ripois by René Clément.
In 1947 his Style Exercises were published. It was also the beginning of the first publications he made under the heteronym of Sally Mara, following a procedure analogous to that of his friend Boris Vian with the heteronym Vernon Sullivan.
On February 11, 1950 (17 de Gueules of 77) was named «Transcendental Satrapa» of the College of ‘Patafísica.
In 1951 he entered the Goncourt Academy (Sociedad Littéraire des Goncourt), in the sixth position, which he would occupy until his death.
In 1959 he published Zazie dans le Métro, a novel that revealed Raymond Queneau to the general public. That same year Olivier Hussenot made a theatrical adaptation and in 1960 director Louis Malle a film adaptation.
Lover of the sciences (in 1948 he entered the Mathematical Society of France), Raymond Queneau always tried to apply arithmetic rules in the construction of his works. On the occasion of a colloquium on his work, Raymond Queneau et une nouvelle illustration de la langue française, held in September 1960, in December of that year he founded, together with François Le Lionnais, the Séminaire de littérature expérimentale (Selitex), a group of literary and scientific research that later became the OuLiPo (Obrador de Literatura Potencial).
He married in 1928 with Janine Kahn, of whom he became a widow in 1972, and with whom he had a son on March 1, 1934, Jean-Marie Queneau.
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