47 Avenue René Coty, 76600 Le Havre, France
Vieux Cimetière, 12 Rue Petit, 91260 Juvisy-sur-Orge, France
Raymond Queneau (21 February 1903 – 25 October 1976) was a French novelist, poet, critic, editor and co-founder and president of Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle), notable for his wit and cynical humour. In Raymond Queneau’s novel Zazie in the Metro (Zazie dans le métro, 1959), the character Gabriel is a drag entertainer in a gay nightclub, ‘the Mount of Venus, the most celebrated of all the pansy night-clubs of the capital, and there’s certainly no serious shortage of them’.
Queneau was born at 47, rue Thiers (now Avenue René-Coty), Le Havre, Seine-Inférieure, the only child of Auguste Queneau and Joséphine Mignot. After studying in Le Havre, Queneau moved to Paris in 1920 and received his first baccalauréat in 1925 for philosophy from the University of Paris. Queneau performed military service as a zouave in Algeria and Morocco during the years 1925–26.
He married Janine Kahn in 1928 after returning to Paris from his first military service. Kahn was the sister-in-law of André Breton, leader of the surrealist movement. In 1934 they had a son, Jean-Marie, who became a painter. They remained married until Janine's death in 1972.
During the 1920s and 1930s Queneau took odd jobs for income such as bank teller, tutor, translator and some writing in a column entitled, "Connaissez-vous Paris?" for the daily Intransigeant. Queneau was drafted in August 1939 and served in small provincial towns before his promotion to corporal just before being demobilized in 1940. After a prolific career of writing, editing and critique, Queneau died on 25 October 1976.
Raymond Queneau died on October 25, 1976 of lung cancer. He is buried in the ancient cemetery of Juvisy-sur-Orge (Essonne).
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