Queneau is one of those cerebral magicians who sparkles like a black pearl on a variety of levels, as a geometrician, philologist, essayist, Gallimard publishing head, and virtuoso of the experimental novel. A veteran of the surrealist wars, he produced two Chaplinesque-Jarry displays, Le Chiendent and Pierrot mon ami, during the Thirties and Forties. Both were larky, gag-ridden kaleidoscopes of civilized frustration and bustling absurdities. His greatest success, the recent Zazie dans le metro, might be considered our era's Alice in Wonderland; projecting a far from innocent little waif amidst a burlesqued stream of Parisian perversion, Zazie proved a riotous, slangy hymn, a marvel of colloquial buffoonery. The Blue Flowers is another dazzling jeu d'esprit; partly a philosophical booby-trap about appearance and reality, partly an extended pun on various aspects of French history, and partly a jazzed-up picaresque tale in which horses talk, medieval wenches sound like contemporary sluts, and the two heroes, the Duke d'Auge and Cidrolin, get their identities, among other things, thoroughly cluttered. Minor Queneau, but with enough rollicking merits, and somewhat special to begin with.