“We Ought to Take…Our Bearings:” The Topographies of Georges Perec


Contemporary French writer Georges Perec compiled “Species of Spaces” in the study of his flat at 18, Rue de l’Assomption, in Paris. Spatial concepts are integral to Perec’s work, which centers on the construction of topographies: as a pedestrian, that of the city in “A Tentative Depiction of Parisian Places,” a memory project using an itinerary that required him to return and repeat their descriptions at regular intervals for a later experience; as an architect, that of the fictional apartment building at 11, Rue Simon-Crubellier in "Life, A User’s Manual," a construction project that reverberates with the interrelated life stories of the building’s past and present inhabitants using a literary constraint that regulates the reappearance of characters and recurrence of their flats’ descriptions; and, finally, as sorter and organizer that of an accountancy project in “Think/Classify” and “The Infra-Ordinary” using an inventory to order objects of his private living space to retreat to and reiterate so that in his description they are arranged and returned to their proper place. These are the coordinates at the center of Perec’s topographies of the habitual, the ordinary, the unassuming, and he favors the unpretentious list to gather objects or thoughts, stack them up, and tap down their affinities and alliances in the process. How fitting, then, that until he received the literary Prix Médicis, Georges Perec worked as an archivist and safeguarded, in its rightful place, the present for the future.

Author Information
Anne-Kathrin Wielgosz, Walsh University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2018
Stream: Humanities - Literature/Literary Studies*

This paper is part of the ACAH2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon