“Places”: Georges Perec, daily wonder

“Places”, by Georges Perec, edited by Jean-Luc Joly, foreword by Sylvia Richardson, foreword by Claude Burgelin, Seuil, “La bookstore du XXIY century”, 608 p., €29, freely available on the Internet.

“Look with all your eyes, look! » This sentence, taken from Michael Strogoff, Jules Verne (1876), Georges Perec had taken it as an exergue to Life handbook. It could also have been used for Facilitiesthis literary adventure that Perec describes as “monstrous, but exciting”which appears half a century after its writing.

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When asked to describe his work as a writer in its amazing diversity, Georges Perec (1936-1982) classified it into four categories: autobiography, such as of course W or childhood memory; pure fiction, that of What little bike with chrome handlebars in the backyard? or of life manual (Denoel, 1975 and 1966; POL, 1978); the exercise in which the Oulipian that he is amuses himself, and from which his epithalamushis Wishes and maybe even Missing, this novel where the letter “e” is stripped (Oulipo, 1989; Seuil, 1989; Denoël, 1969). Finally, he reflected on daily life, on the“infraordinary”which is also the title of a posthumous collection of texts (Seuil, 1989): Facilities it is its most ambitious expression, although unfinished.

With method and regularity

Inside the infra-ordinaryPerec writes precisely this: “What happens every day and what comes back every day, the banal, the everyday, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infraordinary, the background noise, the habitual, how to explain it, how to question it, how to describe it ? » What Perec wants, and explains, is to found “In short, our own anthropology: the one that will talk about us, the one that will seek in us what we have stripped from others for so long. No longer the exotic, but the endotic”. Going to these “places”, with method and regularity, Perec wants to question “which seems so evident that we have forgotten its origin”. He wants “to rediscover something of the amazement that Jules Verne or his readers could experience in front of a device capable of reproducing and transporting sounds. Because it existed, this astonishment, and thousands more, and they are the ones who shaped us».

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When Perec presented his project to Maurice Nadeau, his publisher, in 1969, he was clear that Facilities It will be the fourth book in an autobiographical set, written over twelve years. The first will be the story of his family, which he baptizes The tree and it will not come to an end. The second will be a kind of autobiography. “late, through a catalog of rooms, places where i slept ». The third, an adventure novel, which will be the theme of W or childhood memory. Facilities, the last book, therefore, must “to style everyone else” and even thinks for a moment about calling him sun loci. And as Claude Burgelin explains in his erudite preface, it is not only an attempt to suspend time, to freeze it, it is also the place where Georges Perec allows himself the subjectivity of the self.

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