Volume II, Issue 4 -- November, 2001
On the difficulties of writing about Georges Perec
- Much of Perec's own writing is autobiographical
- It becomes difficult to separate author from work.
- But Perec's approach is not strictly autobiographical -- it is strict, but practically only in other ways.
- Perec's work can rarely be approached in the manner most personally-based writing can, and yet biography is integral to it.
- The knowledge that some of Perec is hidden in his work
- The fear that the anecdote about director Bernard Queysanne -- his only learning years later that the location of the last scene of his film of A Man Asleep was shot essentially where Perec had lived as an infant, when his parents had still been alive -- is not the exception but typical of how Perec used his past but did not reveal it.
- Much of Perec's own writing is also impersonal, with form exerting an enormous influence on content.
- Perecís own writing is so exhaustive
- The detailing is meticulous, minute.
- His analysis goes in great depth, considering and describing all aspects.
- His writing seems complete: what can there be to add ?
- There is an abundance of writing about Perec
- There are biographies -- including David Belos' exemplary one -- seemingly covering most of the essential biographical details.
- There are a fill of homages and tributes, and many personal reminiscences.
- The advantage -- real or imagined -- of those who write from personal experience, who knew Perec personally.
- Concomitantly: the general veneration of the figure Perec
- Perec as a sympathetic figure
- Perec seems genuinely sympathetic, in all respects, including:
- His humble archivist life.
- His unostentatious cleverness.
- His crossword puzzling.
- Perec was not so simple, and yet it is hard to get beyond the superficial facts.
- It is difficult to even want to see the warts -- even those so apparent on his face.
- The sheepish grin Perec displays in photographs
- Author poses are terrible things, but Perec's sheepish grin is always winning.
- As if he refuses to take it all seriously.
- As if he refuses to allow the viewer -- the reader -- to take it all seriously.
- Or at all seriously.
- But it is also a sad, knowing countenance.
- A face into which one can read too much.
- An absurd face.
- The face behind all those words.
- The temptation to drop a vowel, or a consonant
The -ogram always on the lip
The temptation to classify
- Perec entices to wordplay, of all sorts.
- Perec offers forms, rules; his material -- from its most basic elements to the most general -- is organized.
- Perec's methodology does not -- should not -- translate to writing about Perec. Not necessarily.
- Organization, methodology, rules: like all fabrications, they can easily mislead.
- Perec was an adept. Emulation generally reduces to (pale) imitation; success, on any larger scale -- especially with a different (in our case: critical) objective in mind -- unlikely.
- The words that get in the way
- Perec died of it. It cut his life short, quickly, unexpectedly. This turn, this rot -- it weighs over his work (and especially the work left unfinished and unwritten).
- Perec was never there and yet it is almost impossible to speak of Perec without the word echoing in the background.
- (His mother .. disappeared there. Presumably she died there (of course she died there). It is a parenthetical fact, an aside. And yet it stands at the very forefront of his life-work.)
- How can one compete with these words ?
- How can one integrate these words in any consideration of man and work when we have never come to terms with then even merely as words ?
- Georges Perec:
- The complete review's Georges Perec page
- La page Georges Perec (French)
- Georges Perec at books and writers
- Georges Perec at the Scriptorium
- Association Georges Perec (French)
- Reading Georges Perec by Warren Motte
- Homage to Georges Perec by Ian Monk -- essential reading
- Books by Georges Perec at the complete review:
- "53 Days"
- Je me souviens
- Life A User's Manual
- A Man Asleep
- Species of Spaces and Other Pieces
- See also: AA files 45/46: Georges Perec + Paris
- Other books about Georges Perec under review:
- Books translated by Georges Perec into French under review:
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