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Georges Perec

Georges Perec (1936 - 1982) was a 20th Century French novelist and essayist, and a member of the Oulipo group.

Both his novels and essays abound with lists and attempts at classification.

La Vie mode d'emploi (translated into English as "Life: a user's manual") is his best-known work. It takes the elevation plan of a Paris apartment block, split into a grid representing the storeys and rooms, and visits one square per chapter, describing the contents and events that have shaped that volume of space since the block's construction and even prior. The novel is crammed with literary allusions, hundreds of different story threads, and several key over-arching stories. The principal one is the tale of Bartlebooth, a rich Englishman who invents a scheme that will occupy his entire life, spend his entire fortune and yet leave no visible trace whatsoever.

"Cantatrix Sopranica L. (http://pauillac.inria.fr/~xleroy/stuff/tomato/tomato)", a spoof scientific paper detailing experiments on the "yelling reaction" provoked in sopranos by pelting them with rotten tomatoes. All the references in the paper are multi-lingual puns and jokes, eg "(Karybb et Scyla, 1973)"

He is also noted for his constrained writing: his novel La Disparition is a lipogram, written without ever using the letter "e". It has been translated into English twice, as "Vanish'd" and "A void".

Another novel, Les Revenentes, is a sort of opposite: the letter "e" is the only vowel used. It's been remarked (by Jacques Roubaud ??) that these two novels draw words from two disjoint sets of the French language, and that a third novel would be possible, made from the words not used so far (those with e's but not exclusively e's).



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