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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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Georges Perec and the Significance of the Insignificant

Georges Perec and the Significance of the Insignificant

(p.105) Chapter 6 Georges Perec and the Significance of the Insignificant
The Afterlives of Georges Perec

Ben Highmore

Edinburgh University Press

Georges Perec died in 1982 at the age of forty-five. What is he for us now, thirty-three years later, in the second decade of the twenty-first century? How do we make him our contemporary? To make Perec’s work part of our present-day involves (perhaps counter-intuitively) grasping his project in its historical specificity. It isn’t by cherry-picking useable aspects of the work that we will ensure some relevance to its afterlife: rather, it will be by recognising his larger project as a response to a particular historical situation. While Perec’s situation in the 1960s and 1970s in France is not ours, it still has a relation to our world. Perec becomes our contemporary in the act of seeing these relations, how a continuity of feeling and mood percolates through historical ruptures, and how changes in mood and feeling activate historical continuities. The central claim of this chapter is that a central aspect of Perec’s project was the latter’s attempt to register actuality, that is, that this project was a form of realism. Moreover, like many forms of realism, it was a quest and a question rather than an answer or solution.

Keywords:   Georges Perec, realism, the everyday, Georg Lukács, Things

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