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Structured around a single moment in time — p.

Frequently bought together

From the confessions of a racing cyclist to the plans of an avenging murderer, from a young ethnographer obsessed with a Sumatran tribe to the death of a trapeze artist, from the fears of an ex-croupier to the dreams of a sex-change pop star to an eccentric English millionaire who has devised the ultimate pastime, Life is a manual of human irony, portraying the mixed marriages of fortunes, passions and despairs, betrayals and bereavements, of hundreds of lives in Paris and around the world. But the novel is more than an extraordinary range of fictions; it is a closely observed account of life and experience.

All are there for the reader to solve in the best tradition of the detective novel. With pleasure. A bi-square is similar to a sudoku puzzle, though more complicated, as two lists of elements must be distributed across the grid. In the pictured example, these two lists are the first three letters of the Greek and Latin alphabets; each cell contains a Greek and a Latin character, and, as in a sudoku, each row and column of the grid also contains each character exactly once.

Using the same principle, Perec created 21 bi-squares, each distributing two lists of 10 elements. This allowed Perec to distribute all 42 of his element lists across the 99 chapters. Any given cell on the 10x10 map of the apartment block could be cross-referenced with the equivalent cell on each of the 21 bi-squares, for each chapter a unique list of 42 elements to mention could be produced.

Perec also further sub-divided 40 of these lists into 10 groups of four the sixth sub-group, for example, contains the lists "Fabrics", "Colours", "Accessories" and "Jewels", [1] which gave the story-generating machine an additional layer of complexity. Another variation comes from the presence of Lists 39 and 40 in the 10th sub-group; Lists 39 and 40 would sometimes number their own sub-group as the one to be tampered with in a given chapter.

According to Perec's biographer, David Bellos, this self-reflexive aspect of Lists 39 and 40 "allowed him to apply 'gap' in such cases by not missing out any other constraint in the group 'gapping the gap' or by missing out a constraint in a group not determined by the bi-square number 'wronging the wrong' or by not getting anything wrong at all 'gapping the wrong' ". An appendix section in the book contains a chronology of events starting at , a page index, a list of the or so main stories, and a plan of the elevation of the block as the 10x10 grid.

The index lists many of the people, places and works of art mentioned in the book:. In the words of Italo Calvino , he was 'one of the most singular literary personalities in the world, a writer who resembled absolutely no one else. In a list of nontechnical books he has read, computer scientist Donald Knuth referred to this book as "perhaps the greatest 20th century novel". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.

Life: A User’s Manual

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Georges Perec: A Life in Words , pp.


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This is just a bonus Perec threw in for lonely little enchanted reference hunters like myself. It's easy for me to get carried away with this sort of thing. I'd like to think that the social power of goodreads could somehow manage to unearth all of these little hidden gems and collect them all in one space because that would be awesome. If you have stumbled across any of the other hidden literary allusions let me know! Anyway, this is a great book and it is amazing how Perec managed to pack in so much stuff the references, the Knight's tour schema, etc and still somehow manage to create and tie together so many far-flung and interesting stories about people who all lived in the same apartment block in Paris during one moment in time.

It's everything a novel should or ever could be. Big characters, ripping yarns, wonderful descriptions, word play, structural experimentation and a sad truth at its heart The labours of the many characters contained here generally come to naught. At its core is the tale of Bartlebooth, his project of a lifetime and those whose services he enlists to enable him to bring about its completion.

As a young man with a private income, he conceives a fifty year plan to fill his days: ten years to become a watercolourist, twenty years travelling the world to paint five hundred harbour scenes, twenty years to complete the jigsaw puzzles he will have made from them. Entropy enters when each re-assembled seascape is glued back together then rinsed of its colour and returned to a blank sheet of paper.

Thirty years in, with his part in the plan complete, Winckler must fill his days too.

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Randomly collected images and diagrams about “Life, a User’s Manual”, George Perec

Morrelet, whose job it is to glue the jigsaws back together, claims to have worked in many capacities previously. When he loses three fingers in an experiment and can no longer work for Bartlebooth, he carries out experiments to make remedies, none of which work. As far as possible, Bartlebooth seeks to install his helpers in the apartment building where he lives.

He conceives of a painting that will show all of the rooms at the front of No. And this is what Perec seeks to achieve in the novel, succeeding spectacularly, in my view. In the end, everything returns to dust. Cinoc is another cypher for Perec. The story of Carel van Loorens seems, to me, emblematic of the intertextuality at work within the novel.

It tips the nod to Calvino, having van Loorens tell his Barbary pirate host, Hokab el-Ouakt, about the cities he has visited in return for his hospitality in his palace. Fans of the book like to list their favourite digressions. Why should I be an exception? Its use once in an oeuvre would be enough, but three times in one novel? But since the book is also the story of the building, it coheres.

RIP, GP. This was a very original book.

You can practically read this book starting with what chapter you want and then go in a random fashion and it won't be a problem. The descriptions of Perec are almost photographic, they really challenge your power of imagination. He starts at the door and then goes deep and describes something written in a book which is shown in a photograph held by a guy who is in a painting.

Something like that. The characters of Perec This was a very original book. The characters of Perec stay with you, their stories and lives. It was very interesting to read it, the stories are nice and well written. But I give 4 stars because somehow in the end it kinda lost me. I read the last pages superficially because I wanted to get over with it. As I said, very very original! I am glad I read it. It is said that Paul Auster is a big fan.

Life: A User's Manual

Well, he might learn something from Perec. Perec has a lot of imagination, Auster doesn't! Shelves: genetic-imperative. Many people misinterpret nihilism as only a negative or cynical approach to life and to the cosmos. LAUM accepts our essential nothingness, but revels in the process that takes place between the birth nothing and the death nothing. We are able to exercise an exuberant free will, bouncing around within the framework of those two framing events of birth and death Many people misinterpret nihilism as only a negative or cynical approach to life and to the cosmos.

We are able to exercise an exuberant free will, bouncing around within the framework of those two framing events of birth and death to create puzzles and layers and collections. The basement of LUAM as subconscious, populating our self, which is essentially nothing, with survival gear, food, not for, but of thought. Go places, paint a picture, adhere the picture to wood, cut it apart into a puzzle, assemble the puzzle, reconstitute the puzzle into a whole and make it as perfect as to be unknown as ever having been a puzzle, then finally, dissolve the painting until there is no evidence of the painting.

Nothing to nothing is very much something.

Life A User’s Manual

It seems that the book itself is a still life of the building. I wish I could paint so that I could take a decade to illustrate the details of the building. From LAUM: "In other words, Bartlebooth resolved one day that his whole life would be organised around a single project, an arbitrarily constrained programme with no purpose outside its own completion.

The idea occurred to him when he was twenty. At first it was only a vague idea, a question looming—what should I do?


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Dec 03, Christina rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: not everyone! Shelves: , fiction , booksedition , booksedition , favourites , booksedition , books-combined-edition , library.