History of Literature







French literature


 





 


Georges Perec



 

born March 7, 1936, Paris, France
died March 3, 1982, Ivry

French writer, often called the greatest innovator of form of his generation.

Perec was orphaned at an early age: his father was killed in action in World War II, and his mother died in a concentration camp. He was reared by an aunt and uncle and eventually attended the Sorbonne for several years. His best-selling first novel, Les Choses: une histoire des années soixante (1965; Things: A Story of the Sixties), concerns a young Parisian couple whose personalities are consumed by their material goods. In 1967 he joined the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (Workshop of Potential Literature). Known in short as OuLiPo, the group dedicated itself to the pursuit of new forms for literature and the revival of old ones. Perec’s novel La Disparition (1969; A Void) was written entirely without using the letter e, as was its translation. W; ou, le souvenir d’enfance (1975; W; or, the Memory of Childhood) is considered a masterpiece of innovative autobiography, using alternating chapters to tell two stories that ultimately converge. By far his most ambitious and most critically acclaimed novel is La Vie: mode d’emploi (1978; Life: A User’s Manual), which describes each unit in a large Parisian apartment building and relates the stories of its inhabitants.

Perec’s work in other areas includes a highly acclaimed 1979 television film about Ellis Island. Je me souviens (1978; “I Remember”), a book of about 480 sentences all beginning with the phrase “I remember” and recording memories of life in the 1950s, was adapted for the stage. At his death, Perec was working on a detective novel, which, edited by Harry Mathews and Jacques Roubaud, was published as 53 Jours (1989; 53 Days). A collection of essays, Penser/Classer (1985; “To Think, to Classify”), was published posthumously.
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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