Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Esther Allen

Committee Members

Bettina Lerner

Richard Sieburth

Subject Categories

French and Francophone Literature | Language Interpretation and Translation


Raymond Queneau, translation studies, French literature, Oulipo, literary transmission, Anglophone literature in translation


While the literary oeuvre of French author Raymond Queneau (1903-1976) has been extensively studied, his work as a literary translator has been largely overlooked. Queneau was a prominent member of the French literary avant-garde, but also a literary translator for two decades (1934-1953), and his writing was greatly influenced and impacted by his readings and translations of Anglophone writers. This dissertation provides insight into the role of translation in his conception of writing and language, and the inseparability of the different facets of his career as a writer, literary translator, and publisher. I examine his personal linguistic and literary history to establish the role of multilingualism in his career. I then examine the textual and personal relationships he and his work shared with Anglophone writers. Following guidelines set out by French translation theorist Antoine Berman, I analyze each of Queneau’s literary translations, not with the end of determining accuracy or faithfulness, but instead to extrapolate further information about the relationship between the craft of translation and his other work. This investigation of his literary translations is complemented by an exploration of his critical work and several of his novels, compositions in which I distinguish forms of translation-based writing and shed light on the role these methods played in the construction of his combinatorial writing. I further supplement this inquiry with an examination of related archive materials, as well as a series of interviews I conducted with his colleagues in the French experimental writing group Oulipo. In this dissertation, I seek to clarify the place of translation in Queneau’s career, and define its role in his creative process. I illustrate the active role he played in the transmission of culture across national, linguistic, and temporal divides through literary translation and other translational processes. The formulation of this project has implications not only for our understanding of Queneau’s work, but for our comprehension of the important global role of translation in the creation of experimental literature, and our understanding of the crucial place of the literary polyglot in the international world of twentieth-century literature.