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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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‘Things That Should Be Short’: Perec, Sei Shōnagon, Twitter and the Uses of Banality

‘Things That Should Be Short’: Perec, Sei Shōnagon, Twitter and the Uses of Banality

(p.136) Chapter 8 ‘Things That Should Be Short’: Perec, Sei Shōnagon, Twitter and the Uses of Banality
The Afterlives of Georges Perec

Anthony McCosker

Rowan Wilken

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter reconsiders Twitter as a ‘machinery that produces banality’ and the criticisms this attracts, by approaching it via the work of Georges Perec, and his enduring interest in the musings of the late tenth century Japanese courtesan, Sei Shōnagon and her The Pillow Book. Perec identified in her work two specific elements that became crucial in his own writing: (1) an attentiveness to the inner workings of the everyday; and, (2) an appreciation of the uses and value of list-making. ‘Sei Shonagon does not sort; she lists and begins again. One theme sets off one list, of things or of anecdotes,’ he writes. In this chapter, we aim to present an account of both these strands of Perec’s work in order to suggest that, through them, we can gain insight into why the banalities of the everyday, as experienced via Twitter in particular, are both engaging and vitally significant.

Keywords:   Georges Perec, Sei Shōnagon, Twitter, banality, everyday

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