Review: “Des chiffres et des mètres: la versification de Raymond Queneau” by Anne-Sophie Bories

Des chiffres et des mètres: la versification de Raymond Queneau. Par ANNE-SOPHIE  BORIES. French Studies (2021), 75 (1).

If any twentieth-century French poet invites a methodical, quasi-mathematical approach to their work, it is Raymond Queneau, co-founder of the Oulipo and author of the proto-algorithmic Cent mille milliards de poèmes (1961). Anne-Sophie Bories does just this, constructing a digital corpus of 15,996 lines of poetry with 404,741 meta-textual data entries, and offering a quantitative ‘distant reading’ of Queneau’s oeuvre that seeks to unearth patterns and insights overlooked by traditional close reading. The book therefore represents both an in-depth account of Queneau’s versification, and a test case in the merits and limitations of employing new technologies in the analysis of poetry.

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