Oulipo Laboratory
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Oulipo Laboratory

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  67 ratings  ·  7 reviews
A literary group founded in 1960 by leading French writers and mathematicians, the Oulipo's original aim was to inquire into the possibilities of combining literature and mathematics, and later expanded to include all writing using self-imposed restrictive systems. Contributors include Queneau, Calvino, Fournel, Mathews, etc.
Paperback, 1 page
Published April 1st 1996 by Serpent's Tail (first published 1995)
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This is a great volume for anyone interested in the goings-on of the Oulipo. There are Francois Le Lionnais' obligatory manifestoes, followed by a number of works published by the group over the years, originally as small pamphlets to be distributed among friends and colleagues.

While this kind of work can be hit or miss (some of the pieces in the much larger Oulipo Compendium, for example, could have used a few more monkeys on a few more typewriters), this collection has some strong examples of...more
A system based obsession that becomes writing. It deals with formula, and a great deal of wit. Oulipo is both extremely silly and serious in how works are processed and thought out on the page.

When I was writing poetry on a regular basis I would often use techniques of the Oulipo as well as standard Surrealist/Burroughs cut-ups, etc. But what I did afterwards was cut out the experimental aspect so the reader wouldn't notice the technique. In 'Oulipo' works the means and ways of getting to the t...more
Martijn Wallage
In another book on or by the Oulipo - I think it was the Oulipo Compendium - it is related that Georges Perec came up with some kind of scale to measure the difficulty of writing a lipogram (a text in which a particular letter or group of letters is missing). Perec's own La Disparition, by his measure, was relatively easy since the only constraint he put on himself was to not use the letter 'e'. In Suburbia, his fellow Oulipian Paul Fournel does not use any letters at all: clearly the hardest po...more
A friend recommended this for "Suburbia" by Paul Fournel. It's nice, funny, formally inventive. Unfortunately it is a mostly erased text with footnotes, foreword, afterword, study guide, etc.. Which is all very funny but leaves me wishing he'd actually made the thing rather than made all of the bits talking about the thing. That's probably the point, but not so satisfying. The other pieces in this book seem big on play with the forms of texts as well. I guess Oulipo were about that.

Anyway, I loo...more

Oulipo laboratory is a short book, just over 150 pages set in fairly large type, with one piece each by Lionnais, Queneau, Fourrnel, Jouet, Berge, Calvino, and Matthews (the translator). With the exception of Matthews' poetry, the pieces are all interesting reading, and the introductory manifesto frames the collection well, but the book doesn't have enough depth to give a clear picture of the Oulipo group's work. Oulipo booklets have been published regularly since the mid 70s, so assembling a co...more
Ok so I admit that I haven't read this entire thing, but I will say that if you look at Calvino's insanely complex mathematical formula by which he wrote If On a Winter's Night a Traveller (one of my most favorite books of ever), it will blow your goddamn mind. These guys are unreal-ly brilliant.
head scratching fun
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Queneau was born in Le Havre in 1903 and went to Paris when he was 17. For some time he joined André Breton's Surrealist group, but after only a brief stint he dissociated himself. Now, seeing Queneau's work in retrospect, it seems inevitable. The Surrealists tried to achieve a sort of pure expression from the unconscious, without mediation of the author's self-aware "persona." Queneau's texts, on...more
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“The truth is that the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns is permanent. It began with Zinjanthropus (one million seven hundred and fifty thousand years ago) and will end only with humanity-- or perhaps the mutants who succeed us will take up the cause.” 2 likes
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