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The Afterlives of Georges Perec$
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Rowan Wilken and Justin Clemens

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474401241

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401241.001.0001

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Apoetic Life: Perec, Poetry, Pneumatology

Apoetic Life: Perec, Poetry, Pneumatology

(p.45) Chapter 3 Apoetic Life: Perec, Poetry, Pneumatology
The Afterlives of Georges Perec

Justin Clemens

Edinburgh University Press

For much of his life, it seems Georges Perec spurned poetry, identifying it with the sort of bourgeois sentimentalism that his own writing was constitutionally against. Once, however, he had been convinced by friends such as Harry Mathews that poetry was also exemplary of forms of compositional constraint, he returned to it with a vengeance — to the extent that his later work can even be seen to have received a new and decisive impetus from this realization. This chapter examines fragments from Shakespeare’s King Lear, Raymond Queneau’s oeuvre, and several works of Perec’s in order to identify key sets of operational constraints across their work. The differences and similarities between these operations are discussed, and consequences are drawn for contemporary poetry.

Keywords:   Georges Perec, Raymond Queneau, William Shakespeare, contemporary poetry, Oulipo, compositional constraint, potential literature

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