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Georges Perec (1936–1982)

Author of Life: A User's Manual

124+ Works 11,869 Members 224 Reviews 95 Favorited

About the Author

Georges Perec was born in Paris on March 7, 1936 and was educated in Claude-Bernard and Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire. Perec was a parachutist in the French Military before he began publishing his writing in magazines like Partisans. Perec also wrote the book, Life: A Users Manual. Perec is noted for his show more constrained writing: his 300-page novel La disparition (1969) is a lipogram, written without ever using the letter "e". Perec won the Prix Renaudot in 1965, the Prix Jean Vigo in 1974, the Prix Médicis in 1978. Georges Perec died on March 3, 1982. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Georges Perec foto: Modernista


Works by Georges Perec

Life: A User's Manual (1978) 3,801 copies
A Void (1994) 1,557 copies
A Man Asleep (1967) 372 copies
Thoughts of Sorts (1985) 232 copies
53 Days (1989) 210 copies
Three by Perec (1996) — Author — 176 copies
Un cabinet d'amateur (1979) 175 copies
I Remember (1978) 169 copies
Ellis Island (1980) 115 copies
The Winter Journey (Syren) (1979) — Author — 68 copies
L'infra-ordinaire (1989) 55 copies
Les Revenentes (1972) 49 copies
I Was Born (1990) 48 copies
Winter Journeys (1979) — Author — 46 copies
Ik ben geboren (2003) 42 copies
Romans et récits (2002) 36 copies
Wishes (1982) 36 copies
De aanslag in Sarajevo (1877) 29 copies
Jeux intéressants (1997) 23 copies
Perec/rinations (1997) 23 copies
Lieux (2022) 21 copies
Les Mots Croisés (1979) 21 copies
Alphabets (1976) 14 copies
Winter Journeys (1979) — Author — 13 copies
Oeuvres. Tomes 1 et 2 (2017) 12 copies
Le Voyage d'hiver & ses suites (1979) — Author — 12 copies
What a man ! (1996) 10 copies
Nouveaux jeux intéressants (1998) 10 copies
Le Voyage d'hiver - Le Voyage d'hier (1979) — Author — 10 copies
Œuvres (Tome 1) (2017) 9 copies
Historier (1997) 9 copies
Œuvres (Tome 2) (2017) 8 copies
L'oeil ébloui (1981) 8 copies
De machine 6 copies
Palindrome (2019) 5 copies
L'Eclipsi (2017) 4 copies
Die Maschine. Hörspiel (1972) — Author — 4 copies
Die Winterreise (1990) 3 copies
Harikalar Odası (2006) 3 copies
La cloture (1992) 2 copies
Les mots croisés II (1986) 2 copies
Geboren 1936 (1993) 2 copies
Die Gehaltserhöhung (1990) 2 copies
Jeux (2023) 2 copies
L'infra-ordinario (2023) 1 copy
Olagan-ici 1 copy
Teatro 1 copy
Tingen 1 copy
Čitanka 1 copy
Ulcérations 1 copy
56 lettres à un ami (2011) 1 copy
Talvinen matka (2017) 1 copy
Γεννήθηκα (1994) 1 copy

Associated Works

Granta 52: Food : The Vital Stuff (1995) — Contributor — 146 copies
Paris Tales (2004) — Contributor — 108 copies
Perec (2016) — Contributor — 3 copies
Profil D'Une Oeuvre: Perec (French Edition) (2003) — Contributor — 3 copies


Common Knowledge



Life A User's Manual: An Introduction in 75 Books Challenge for 2011 (August 2011)


One of the most bizarre books I have ever read. I'm not sure how to describe it, or whether it deserves one star or whether it deserves more stars than any rating system can provide. Laboriously cataloguing the lives, possessions, pasts and futures of the residents and rooms of an entire Parisian apartment building, Perec weaves little threads of puzzles throughout a dense narrative. It can be heavy-going to read, but at the same time feels immensely rewarding, even when you're not quite sure what that reward is.

Okay, this is the vaguest review I have EVER written, but I'm at a loss for words. It's certainly an astounding achievement, but I might need a few decades to figure out why I liked it... or even IF I did!
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therebelprince | 54 other reviews | Apr 21, 2024 |
num dia como este, algo se parte.
num dia como este, tudo recomeça.

O livro foi adaptado ao cinema por Bernard Queysanne e Georges Perec em 1974 e está disponível no youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaIXUXdYthA&t=
inesaparicio | 9 other reviews | Jan 25, 2024 |
All of these short essays, originally written for literary periodicals, are also included in Perec's "Species of Spaces," but in any case this is minor Perec and hardly deserves a place in Penguin's "Great Ideas" series.
grunin | 3 other reviews | Jan 4, 2024 |
A series of scenes, snapshots of the same moment in time (almost 8:00 p.m. on June 23, 1975) in each room of an apartment complex in Paris, presented in a generally random order. I thought to read it as a series of short stories with some interlinking, but it doesn't really lend itself to that. For one thing, 'scenes' is a better descriptor than stories since there is practically no dialogue in these. For another, Perec explicitly opens with an essay about jigsaw puzzles, describing how each piece on its own reveals nothing until it is made part of the whole. It would be possible to 'sort' the pieces based on chapter headings, but even then you would not succeed at getting the entire story for any one character that way since some bits about their lives appear in other chapters; thus the pieces may be said to interlink.

Like any story told out of order, perceiving the whole in all its detail is possible but in this case requires more powers of memory and observation than I can bring to bear (I'm not terribly good at either.) An index is offered as an aid, but it runs to sixty pages. Perec at least somewhat relieves the task he's set by using straightforward language, making his pieces plain though very detailed, and he adds entertainment value to what threatens to be dry content with several nested stories that illuminate the occupants while also delving into the lives of several former residents and the building's history.

Why so many descriptions of the artworks in each room? I see a parallel between these and Perec's frozen-in-time rooms themselves; he is painting with literature. Laurence Sterne would have some satiric things to say about this, but Perec shows us the advantage of his medium: he can give us the backstory behind the scene, or at least clues with which to piece that backstory together. This metaphor also suggests a parallel between Perec and the declared aim of Bartlebooth as described in Chapter 26. He has made it his aim to produce scenes which can be perceived as puzzle pieces, that may be brought together to make a whole (a novel), but that whole does not need to have any ultimately deeper meaning in order to achieve his aesthetic aim.

The book offers another lesson or reminder; the mystery of the enormous variety in others' lives with which we are surrounded in our urban environments, as when you pass a few dozen cars on the freeway and have the idle thought of wondering about the business of each. I feel certain that Michael Hutchence was inspired by Perec when he co-wrote "The Stairs" for INXS. It is a melancholy song about isolation in the midst of a crowded space, a kind of starvation surrounded by plenty. Some of the song's lines are cribbed from this novel's opening scene (which is even titled "On the Stairs"). Conversely, Perec's denizens who surround one another are all explicitly linked together in some way, although what the whole looks like is left even more a mystery to them than it is to us. Hutchence and Perec reach the same conclusion, but Perec doesn't see any problem. His stairs, his entire building, is an end in itself that you are welcome to simply wash your mind clean of once more, like the empty building outline which Valene leaves behind.
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Cecrow | 54 other reviews | Nov 28, 2023 |


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