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Using unpublished documents and firsthand interviews, Bellos details Perec's tragic childhood, his difficult apprenticeship, his emergence into literary renown, and finally his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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David Bellos is Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University. He is well known for his many translations and for his biographies Georges Perec: A Life in Words and Jacques Tati. David Bellos was awarded the first Man Booker International Translator's Prize in 2005 for his translations of Ismail Kadare's novels.From Booklist:
Perec, separated from his Jewish mother and father in the war (the older Perec died as a soldier), grew up in the France of Raymond Queneau, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Roland Barthes, in an era that held Joyce and Nabokov to be its greatest literary gods. These names give an indication of the nature of Perec's work: playful, puzzling, coded, deconstructing, eccentric, and very much in the camp of not so much a "life in words" as a "life as words." Perec wrote crossword puzzles, recorded in one book all his dreams from a period in the 1960s, wrote moving memoirs of his childhood, authored a film, wrote the world's longest palindrome, and constructed a great "deconstructive" novel (Life: A User's Manual) that actually fails to deconstruct. There is no doubt that Perec was a great original (he died, sadly, at the age of 46), and Bellos, his translator as well as his biographer, has written about as exhaustive a first biography as one is likely to meet. Obviously an item for larger literary collections, it is, nevertheless, an invaluable guide to a great and too-little-known writer's work. Stuart Whitwell
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Book Description David R Godine. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0879239808 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1419851
Book Description David R Godine, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110879239808
Book Description David R Godine, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0879239808