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A postmodern fairy tale might best describe Jacques Roubaud's delightful book The Princess Hoppy, or The Tale of Labrador. How else to describe a novel that reads like an Arthurian romance as rewritten by Lewis Carroll, with enough math puzzles to keep the game reader busy with a calculator for months? The tale concerns a princess, her faithful dog (who happens to be a wiz at math), four royal uncles always plotting, four royal aunts always potting, a lovesick hedgehog named Bartleby, two camels named North Dakota and South Dakota, four ducks who double as boats (thus called doats), and an amphibious blue whale named Barbara to name only a few. (Even the Sun has a speaking role.) There are dramatic abductions, daring rescues, passages in hitherto untranscribed languages (Dog, Grasshopper, Duck), tales of unrequited love, allegorical interludes, poems, a playlet, and much more. (But no suspenders, the author promises.) Finally, there are 79 questions for readers of the novel, to see how closely they've been paying attention--?for ultimately The Princess Hoppy is a giddy inquiry into how we read literary works. It is both an old-fashioned tale and an ultramodern hypertext, the oldest and the latest thing in fiction.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781564780324
ISBN-10: 1564780325
Format: Paperback
(216mm x 142mm x 11mm)
Pages: 133
Imprint: Dalkey Archive Press
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
Publish Date: 1-Sep-1993
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Brevity is the anodyne here for Roubaud's customary low-yielding high jinks (Hortense in Exile, etc.) in this postmodern, word-processor-in-cheek fairy-tale starring Hoppy, a Princess, and her dog, whose name cannot be given for security reasons. Plot summary would be exasperating, misleading, and irrelevant for a tale whose narrative structure most closely resembles that of a toccata and fugue. After a cute, leaden introduction ("Some Indications about What the Tale Says"), the first four chapters lay out a riddle-riddled world peopled by Hoppy and her Dog-speaking dog; her four kingly uncles - Imogene, Aligote, Babylas, and Eleonor (without the E) - who spend their time entertaining and plotting against each other; their queens; and such visitors as the black horseman and the Babylonian astronomer. After an interchapter warning that things are about to get dicier, the tale resets to start, changing and embroidering such details as the names of the kings and queens, the color of the horseman (purple, if you're keeping track), and the cosmology and geometrical configuration of the kingdom. A closing list of 79 questions, a dedication to the Princess, and two exhaustive but mercifully brief indexes conclude the farrago of Monty Python, Barthelme's Snow White, Through the Looking-Glass and "The Hunting of the Snark," the gospel according to John, and the "Mathematical Games" section of Scientific American. This savants' brew, full of jocosity though devoid of wit (it sounds like a lot more fun than it is), seems handsomely enough translated. "The usefulness of certain enigmas will thus only appear to the listener if he already has a fairly good grasp of the Tale or if he has sufficient patience to stay his drowsiness until he has occasion to be convinced of their need (or even to resolve them)." On this evidence, Joyce and Derrida have a lot to answer for. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Jacques Roubaud

Jacques Roubaud (born 1932 in Caluire-et-Cuire, Rh ne) is a French poet and mathematician.

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