Georges Perec: A Life in Words : a Biography

Front Cover
David R. Godine Publisher, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 802 pages
4 Reviews
This is the first complete biography of Georges Perec (1936-1982), novelist, poet, verbal gamesman, master puzzler ? a man at once eccentric, brilliant, and endearingly ordinary, whom Italo Calvino called "so singular a literary personality that he bears absolutely no resemblance to anyone else."Perec's novels are widely regarded as modern classics, but his linguistic mastery actually extended to a stunning variety of forms: from autobiography, drama, and criticism to crossword puzzles and the world's longest palindrome. Ever in search of new verbal challenges, he wrote one novel entirely without the letter e; and in 1978 he published the monumental, structurally complex Life A User's Manual, which many critics have placed (in the words of The Boston Globe) "on the level of Joyce, Proust, Mann, Kafka, and Nabokov."In Georges Perec: A Life in Words, David Bellos, Perec's award-winning English translator, introduces the enigmatic figure behind these remarkable works, showing how Perec's experiences led to such masterpieces as Life, the celebrated Things, and the harrowing W or The Memory of Childhood ? the latter inspired by his parents' deaths during World War II (one of them at Aucshwitz) and by his own sense of guilt as a survivor.Using unpublished documents and firsthand interviews, Bellos details Perec's tragic childhood, his difficult apprenticeship, his emergence into literary renown, and finally his death from cancer at age 46. He traces the influences of Perec's Polish-Jewish background, and of the friendships'with such figures as Calvino, Raymond Queneau, Harry Mathews, and others'that helped shape this extraordinary life. He offers privileged insights, born of many years' reflection and study, into Perec's vertiginous works. He situates Perec as a primary figure of French intellectual life in the 1960s and 1970s, due in part to his collaborations with the radically inventive OuLiPo group (whose name condenses the emblematic phrase "Workshop of Potential Literature"). And he shows the painstaking process by which a phenomenally gifted writer, suffering from a sheltered past crippling emotional burden, reconstructed his life in the only way he knew how: in words.
  

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Review: Georges Perec: A Life in Words

User Review  - Penny - Goodreads

Perec applied for a library position held by Robbe-Grillet? Fascinating! (He was not hired for said job, btw.) Read full review

Review: Georges Perec: A Life in Words

User Review  - David R. Godine - Goodreads

"An overwhelmingly human portrait, as vivid as it is complex, not only of Perec but of...Paris intellectual life in the 60s and 70s." — Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Read full review

Contents

19361965
3
Chapter
18
Chapter
27
6
51
8
81
9
88
10
101
Books at Blevy
121
LImagination an Pouvoir
398
Happiness
404
Places of Safety
413
Into Reverse
425
The Constraint of Time
435
I Remember
448
Like a Dog
463
A Year in Splinters
475

13
131
15
147
17
168
The General Line
214
Chapter 22
224
23
232
24
240
19751982
247
25
250
Partisans
268
The Great Adventure
284
Things
298
The Track of Things
304
First Prize
305
19651975
319
Without a Tie
321
Return to Sfax
330
Paradise
334
Rue du Bac
338
OuLiPoanderSaar
344
Perec in Fashion
353
OuLiPosurSeine
359
Forking Paths
364
Perec on Air
373
RadioPerec
386
Writers Block
388
Avenue de Segur
501
Rue SimonCrubellier
507
On Location
518
Esartuniloc
527
MW
538
Rue Linne
556
Catherine
565
A Writers Living
575
The 1976 Prospectus
582
Hiding and Showing
586
A View of the Works
596
Friends and Relations
609
Life A Users Manual
619
Launch into Orbit
636
Working for the Screen
652
The Artist on his Trapeze
662
Perec the Poet
669
Beaux Presents
677
Fiftythree Days in Australia
679
The Murder of Robert Serval
697
Things to Do Before I Die
706
The Works of Georges Perec
717
Index of Perecs Titles
751
Index of Names
757
Index of Topics
797
Copyright

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About the author (1993)

David Bellos is the author of a number of award-winning literary biographies and the winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize for translation in 2005. He lives in New Jersey and teaches French, Italian, and Comparative literature at Princeton University.

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