Raymond Roussel had decided to add illustrations to Nouvelles Impressions d'Afrique (1932) , and through the efforts of the GORON Detective Agency, contacted the artist and illustrator Henri Zo (1873 - 1933) best known for dramatic scenes of bullfighting in oils, and for illustrating Pierre Loti's Ramuntcho of 1923. The author briefed artist over the 'phone with generalised descriptions of scenes he wished visualised, and accepted without further intervention, the drawings he received.


"... a restaurant waiter holding two knives forming a cross..."

"A parrot on its perch seeming to talk to a passer by. No other people."

"A section of starry sky without any earthly landscape as if seen from some vantage point in space and giving the impression of infinity." Ford 200-1

Zo responded respectfully but was professionally wounded when he received his complementary copies, " These are not the drawings I would have produced had I known that I was illustrating Raymond Roussel... my drawings are lacking in Liberty and Fancy. Even the technique since the dryness of pen and ink drawings does not match the abundance and tumult of your verses." Caradec pp308-9.

The American novelist Gilbert Sorrentino (1929-2006) paid a tribute to the visual quality Zo infused into Roussel's book." Under the Shadow has a structure based upon the drawings done for Raymond Roussel's Nouvelles Impressions D'Afrique by H. A. Zo, drawings that, incidentally, have nothing to do with the text, but which, oddly enough, make a text of their own, a fragmented and discontinuous one, but a text nonetheless. Under the Shadow is Zo's "story" as it can be pulled out of his pedestrian but really haunting drawings." Interview with Alexander Laurence in 1994.


Henri Zo


see Mark Ford, Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams, Faber and Faber 2000

Francois Caradec, Raymond Roussel the Biography, Atlas Press London 2001