Things by Georges Perec
A Story of the Sixties/a Man Asleep

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With the American publication of Life, a User's Manual in 1987, Georges Perec was immediately recognized in the U.S. as one of this century's most innovative writers. Now Godine is pleased to issue two of his most powerful novels in one volume: Things, in an authoritative new translation, and A Man Asleep, making its first English appearance. Both provoked strong reactions when they first appeared in the 1960s; both which speak with disquieting immediacy to the conscience of today's readers. In each tale Perec subtly probes our obsession with society's trappings the seductive mass of things that crams our lives, masquerading as stability and meaning.

Jerome and Sylvie, the young, upwardly mobile couple in Things, lust for the good life. "They wanted life's enjoyment, but all around them enjoyment was equated with ownership." Surrounded by Paris's tantalizing exclusive boutiques, they exist in a paralyzing vacuum of frustration, caught between the fantasy of "the film they would have liked to live" and the reality of life's daily mundanities.

In direct contrast with Jerome and Sylvie's cravings, the nameless student in A Man Asleep attempts to purify himself entirely of material desires and ambition. He longs "to want nothing. Just to wait, until there is nothing left to wait for. Just to wander, and to sleep." Yearning to exist on neutral ground as "a blessed parenthesis," he discovers that this wish is by its very nature a defeat.

Accessible, sobering, and deeply involving, each novel distills Perec's unerring grasp of the human condition as well as displaying his rare comic talent. His generosity of observation is both detached and compassionate.

About Georges Perec

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George Perec was born in Paris on March 7, 1936 and was educated in Claude-Bernard and Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire. Perec was a parachutist in the French Military before he began publishing his writing in magazines like Partisans. Perec also wrote the book, Life: A Users Manual. Perec is noted for his constrained writing: his 300-page novel La disparition (1969) is a lipogram, written without ever using the letter "e". Georges Perec died on March 3, 1982. David Bellos is the author of a number of award-winning literary biographies and the winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize for translation in 2005. He lives in New Jersey and teaches French, Italian, and Comparative literature at Princeton University. Andrew Leak is head of the French department at University College in London. He is the author of "The Perverted Consciousness: Sexuality and Sartre" and "Roland Barthes: Mythologies" and is the editor of "Sartre Studies International."
Published November 1, 1990 by David R Godine Pub. 221 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Comics & Graphic Novels. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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With leisure to savor Parisian life, but without income equal to their dreams, they find themselves ""up to their necks in a cream cake from which they would only ever be able to nibble crumbs."" In a narrative without dialogue, almost without incident, JÉrome and Sylvie are brought to life thro...

Nov 05 1990 | Read Full Review of Things: A Story of the Sixtie...

Kirkus Reviews

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Let it be first of all by their presence that objects and gestures impose themselves...."" This is Robbe-Grillet's formulation of the aesthetic which demands the inevitable comparison with sociologist Georges Perec's novel as it relentlessly inventories things, the material objectives of a young ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Two intriguing and poignant novellas, Perec's first published works, show him forging the iconoclastic literary style that fully emerges in his magisterial Life: A User's Manual --the technique of crowding fictional space with an almost rococo wealth of detail and decor.

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London Review of Books

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Chamber Four

There is something else you know as well, or rather something that you should have been able to foresee: you should never turn around, or at any rate not so quickly, or everything breaks, higgledy-piggledy, your pillow falls and takes your cheek with it, your forearm, your thumb and your feet top...

Jul 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Things: A Story of the Sixtie...