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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Inside the dreams of Georges Perec: La boutique obscure: 124 dreams

As someone who a) has, on and off for years, kept a sort of fitful dream journal, and b) is a total Oulipo fan, I am very excited to delve into this never-before-translated edition of Georges Perec's "nocturnal autobiography".


Perec is known for writing with, or through, various self-imposed literary restrictions (La disparition was written without using the letter "e", and La vie mode d'emploi employed an intricate mathematical, puzzle-like system of narrative rules), and for being a founding member of the Oulipo (ouvroir de littérature potentiel). He kept a dream journal from 1968-1972, in which, rather than engaging in the more expected Freudian analysis of symbols and possible meanings, he instead recorded every dream element and image he could remember, in a matter-of-fact style that deftly captures the  fragmented recollections of the just-awoken.

An excerpt from dream No. 19, August, 1970:

"Three famous actors, wrinkled like old Western heroes (Stewart, Fonda, etc.) are seated at a table, smiling as they handle thick rolls of dollars.
Wide shot: a roll of blue and yellow bills, differing only by the digit: $500, $500, $100, etc., a long stretch of $1 bills in the middle, then back to large denominations.

In the meantime, I learn that I'm going to be a father, then that I am: the child was born, I wasn't even told.

I walk down a long hallway, trying to thin of a suitable name: it needs to be very short (like Jorg') or very long. Didier, for instance, would not work."

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