martes, 6 de abril de 2010

Perec, 1

"I detest what's called psychology, especially in fiction.  I prefer books in which characters are described by their actions, their gestures, and their surroundings.  [...]  It's something that belongs to the great tradition of realism in the English and German novel of the nineteenth century, which I've exaggerated a little, almost taking it to hyperrealism."  Georges Perec, 1981

Remembering the debate at the outset of last year's 2666 readalong sparked by whether Roberto Bolaño's wordiness in The Part About the Critics was too much of a good thing (for those who missed it, the group was quickly divided into camps of those who hated Bolaño's level of detail and those who were enamored with his prose), I was tickled to find the quote above in David Bellos' Georges Perec: A Life in Words (London: Harvill, 1993, p. 573) because I think it does a lot to explain why Perec and maybe Bolaño made some of the storytelling choices that they did.  Having said that, I also have to wonder how the haters would have reacted to Life A User's Manual and the deliberately frisky provocation posed by its room-by-room description of the current and former inhabitants of a Parisian apartment block with all their significant belongings (and even a home repair catalogue at one point) included.  Too funny!

4 comentarios:

  1. Very interesting! The hyperrealism (although it doesn't exactly strike me that way...maybe "parody of realism"? It takes realism to a point where it feels kind of dream-like) is definitely a lot of what's reminding me of 2666 in Perec.

    I love how in Perec, while the story sometimes seems to just disintegrate into objects, the objects are also prone to expand into stories - all the seeming tangents about trapeze artists, archeological digs, etc.

  2. Emily, I love the connection you make between stories and objects here. Very insightful! In addition to the Bolaño parallels, Perec also reminds me of Ovid in the Metamorphoses for his ability to draw outlandish connections between one tale and another. You never know quite where he's going to lead you next!

  3. I feel a bit like a lemming in that I finally took the plunge and ordered myself a copy this past weekend. I have nothing insightful to add at this stage, but may I just say? the Perec photos are priceless!

    This hyperrealism of which he speaks -- possibly I'm seeing a bit of this in the tongue in Thomas Mann's cheek.

  4. Isabella, awesome--and count your blessings that you didn't "feel a bit like a lemming" in the Kristin Lavransdatter readalong instead! I have nothing insightful to say about Thomas Mann, but he's one of the many authors namechecked during Perec's postscript for having contributed "quotations" altered by Perec during the course of Life. In other words, you may be on to something! P.S. Glad you're enjoying the Perec photo series...