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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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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 08 May 2021

Georges Perec: A Player’s Manual

Georges Perec: A Player’s Manual

(p.189) Chapter 11 Georges Perec: A Player’s Manual
The Afterlives of Georges Perec

Thomas Apperley

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores the well-established attribute of playfulness in Georges Perec’s work, a quality exemplified in his 1978 novel, Life A User’s Manual. In Perec’s oeuvre, Life is the culmination of experimentation with writing through play, games, rules, constraints and contingency. The themes and structure of the novel resonate with contemporary discussions of player agency, through the creative use of contingency and constraint in relation to an algorithmic structure, and this attribute of playfulness and experimentation in his work suggests an unintended and enduring afterlife for Perec’s work in Game Studies and critical literature on digital games. Perec’s work also flags an important and enduring issue for Game Studies: the contentious role that the digitally coded algorithm has in shaping player agency. This chapter begins by fleshing out the contexts from which Perec’s attentiveness to the ludic arose: his childhood and early experiences; his day job as an archivist and database designer; and his experimentation with constrained writing through his association with Oulipo. The chapter then proceeds to examine the writing process he used in Life, and how these processes are emphasised through the themes of the novel, particularly the failed attempts by the novel’s protagonist to create an overarching, programmatic vision of life.

Keywords:   Georges Perec, game studies, play, Life A User’s Manual

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