Journal of Romance Studies

Georges Perec: distributive constraints, textual liberties

Journal of Romance Studies (2007), 7, (3), 59–74.

Abstract

Mathematics, central to the work of the Oulipo writers in general, provides a particularly rich resource for Georges Perec in his search to create forms which forge order out of disorder. His texts invoke rules, distributive constraints and textual regularities in various ways to outsmart language constantly and to experiment with all kinds of limits within the literary work. ‘Palindromes’, ‘heterograms’, ‘lipograms’ are some of those radical experiments on the possibilities inherent to an idiom that Perec performed as texts and poems. Constraints have their own style: those worked out by Perec all seem to derive from a fragmentation to be redeemed and extracted from the loss of all meaning at the heart of the language. Among the oulipian works, La Vie mode d’emploi represents the most accomplished example of the tension between highly complex protocols of calculation and the artwork as a struggle with chance, fragmentation and oblivion.

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Author details

Neefs, Jacques