Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “W or the Memory of Childhood” as Want to Read:
W or the Memory of Childhood
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

W or the Memory of Childhood

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,117 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Written in alternating chapters, W or the Memory of Childhood, tells two parallel tales, in two parts. One is a story created in childhood and about childhood. The other story is about two people called Gaspard Winckler: one an eight-year-old deaf-mute lost in a shipwreck, the other a man despatched to search for him, who discovers W, an island state based on the rules of ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 3rd 2011 by Vintage Classics (first published 1975)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about W or the Memory of Childhood, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about W or the Memory of Childhood

It by Stephen KingShe by H. Rider HaggardKim by Rudyard KiplingC by Tom McCarthyFoe by J.M. Coetzee
T is for Title
32nd out of 78 books — 35 voters
Shōgun by James ClavellDiscipline and Punish by Michel FoucaultTerms of Endearment by Larry McMurtryLooking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith RossnerJ R by William Gaddis
Best Books of 1975
73rd out of 89 books — 35 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,483)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Sometimes the face of an author or the title of a book conceals a lot more than what it is capable of revealing and the same happened when I picked this book. My first Perec and I expected something completely different from what was eventually encountered. W, or The Memory of Childhood is a revelation of unconventional sorts where the measured doses of harrowing truth are served in a fantastical glass bowl, which is destined or susceptible to break sooner than later.

She died without understa
If you are thinking about reading W, you probably need some incentives to pick up a copy, apart from star ratings (and, be warned, after reading W, you way have unpleasant reactions to ratings in general in the future).
So here are some incentives: try to imagine writing a memoir of your childhood between the ages of three and nine, set in the period from 1939 to 1945. Imagine that you have only a few photos and that your own fairly vivid memories don't always match the accounts of relatives or
'Kay, I guess this book was not bad. It kinda worked for me, but then again, it didn't.

I mean, this guy is George frigging Perec, the guy who wrote stuff like La Disparition and Espèces d'espaces, so he's really super intelligent. And this book is very well constructed.

There're two stories that are being told. One is Perec's own childhood as a Jewish child in occupied France. He escapes the camps by being placed in a Catholic boarding school (sort of like Louis Malle's Au revoir, les enfants b
Adam Floridia
Fair warning, this review is going to be mostly quotations and a couple of personal meanderings.

“When I was thirteen I made up a story which I told and drew in pictures. Later I forgot it. Seven years ago, one evening, in Venice I suddenly remembered that this story was Called W and that it was, in a way, if not the story of my childhood, then at least a story of my childhood….W is no more like my Olympic fantasy than that Olympic fantasy was like my childhood. But in the crisscross web they wea
Jeff Jackson
UPDATE: For those of you who've caught Olympic fever, this is the novel to read after the games. It'll shade your memory of the decathlon and many other track & field events. Perec's book has been haunting me in unexpected ways as I tune into the coverage.

4.5 stars. An affecting mix of autobiographical fragments, a page-turning mystery involving a strange letter, and a slightly schematic description of a society of athletes. These parallel narratives deal with the unreliable nature of memor
C'est un livre magnifique que j'ai relu avec plaisir, mais moins d'empressement que la première fois.
La partie autobiographique m'a toutefois beaucoup plus impressionnée à la seconde lecture. La construction de la mémoire par l'écriture, problème classique de l'autobiographie ressassée depuis Saint-Simon prend ici des allures différentes. La mémoire fait constamment défaut. Le narrateur cherche dans les artéfacts de sa jeunesse, vieilles photos ou lieux revisités dans les années 70, le souvenir
Five total pages of five-star Perecian prose? The memoir stuff seemed truthful yet underdeveloped? The Kafkan report on the Darwinian society of uber athletes at times kicked some serious scary allegorical ass (pre-race battling and the spoils of victory) but often felt numerically obsessive/flat, which makes sense I guess as a way to approach the extreme systemic rationality built over the extreme demonic irrationality of Nazi atrocity, but still, not so hot to read? The tenuous connection betw ...more
Georges Perec's death in his mid-forties was almost as big a loss for the world of French literature as the similarly early death of Albert Camus. His was a most rich and creative mind, as his complex novel "Life, a User's Novel" probably best illustrates. "W," the short novel/autobiography under review here, like the French "double V," is made up of two connected narratives, presented in alternating chapters. One is comprised of fragmentary memories from Perec's childhood as an orphaned Jew, wh ...more
Certainly less mind-bending and self-consciously linguistically assured than Perec's other work, W nevertheless carries its own particular pleasures, and I would set it on the same shelf as A Void and Life: A User's Manual, although for entirely different reasons. Generally when it comes to Perec you're looking for amazing prose, or maybe for something more rarefied, even, like the generative workings of a lively mind released free-form onto the page. W is not that sort of book, by any means, ev ...more
This was the first novel we read for my French literature class. (Prior to this, we perused Roland Barthes, as well as the film La Jetée, which were both stunning). Usually I'm more a fan of novels than I am of any other literary medium, but this one just didn't do it for me mainly because I've yet to understand it in its full... if it even is understandable, that is.

Yep. It's one of those.

If I end up writing an analysis for this later—or rather, if it's any good, considering we're all required
M. D.  Hudson
To quote from the jacket blurb: “…W tells two parallel stories. The first is autobiographical, describing the author’s wartime boyhood. The second tale, denser, more disturbing, more horrifying, is the allegorical story of W, a mythical island of Tierra Del Fuego governed by the thrall of the Olympic “Ideal,” where losers are tortured and winners held in temporary idolatry.” Everything but the plug is correct here – the second allegorical tale is overly complicated, contrived and ultimately abou ...more
A strange book. In fact one of those books which is so strange that you long to sit down with the author to understand exactly what was going through his mind when he decided to pair a story of his childhood with a gruesome account of sports mad dystopia. Was he highlighting the horror of Nazi ideology? Underlining the unreliability of memories by contrasting his recollections with a completely absurd story? It is a testament to Perec that whatever path of strangeness he decided to frolic down i ...more
Pour E... Pour eux....

« Je ne retrouverai jamais, dans mon ressassement même, que l’ultime reflet d’une parole absente et l’écriture, le scandale de leur silence et de mon silence : je n’écria spas pour dire que je ne dirai rien, je n’écris pas pour dire que je n’ai rien à dire… »

W ou le souvenir d’enfance est un livre composé de fragments, des fragments de souvenirs perdus dans un passé trouble et palpable à la fois, où Perec s’approprie des actes dont il a été parfois le témoin, il erre dans u
Kris Kipling
As autobiographies go this cryptic novella must be among the most unusual ever penned. Georges Perec’s parents were killed in concentration camps when he was a boy. The second chapter begins: I have no childhood memories... I was excused: a different history, History with a capital H, had answered the questions in my stead: the war, the camps.

Perec was one of those experimental French novelists who thrived in the 1960s and is most famous for writing a novel entirely without the letter E. Here he
Claudia f. Savage
Definitely one of the most devastating books about the Holocaust I've ever read.

It sneaks up on you, though, so give it a chance. All the banality that you think is trivial leads to an ending that sucker punches you on the jaw. Lights out.

The idea that sport is king on an imaginary island seems odd, but harmless. Then come the descriptions of gang rape, starvation, murder, and child abuse on a scale you just can't believe.

The fact that he mirrors this so delicately with memories of his own chil
Deux récit alternent, l'un est la description précise des rares souvenirs d'enfance de Georges Perec, l'autre est le fonctionnement d'une île olympique, l'île de W où le sport est tout. J'avoue que si le travail de reconstitution de la mémoire de Perec m'a passionnée, que je me suis un peu ennuyée devant son ile olympique d'autant qu'au début elle était plutôt décrite comme une utopie, même si pour moi, qui n'aime pas beaucoup le sport, une île où il y aurait tout le temps des jeux olympiques se ...more
Other than (my boy forever) Italo Calvino, I'd never read any Oulipo writers before, and Perec was recommended to me. Oh man, two dovetailing narratives forming a cohesive and moving meditation on fascism, I dig this shit super-hard. Combining a fabulist perspective, a pointillistic, convincing memoir, and an overarching structurality, this is pretty remarkable in a lot of ways.
I almost feel ridiculous giving this book only 4 really is a 9/10 for me. Its just that on a first-read its one star short because the awesomeness of this book doesn't hit you until the last few pages of the read (and I was a bit confused for awhile), so a re-read is definitely necessary!

On marinating further after finishing...(view spoiler)
Katie Grainger
W or The Memory of Childhood is two parallel stories, one is the story of an island W, which is a dictatorship based on sport and a warped Olympic ideal. The second story is the autobiographical account of George's Perec's early life, in which we learn how he spent the years of the Second World War during the height of Nazi power.

This book is powerful because you realise quite early on the W is in fact a form of Concentration Camp, it is a grotesque parody of what happened to Jews across Europe
Georges Perec "W eller erindringen om en barndom"

"W eller erindringen om en barndom" en todelt fortælling, hvor Georges Perec undersøger det stof minder og virkelighed er gjort af.

Mindernes sammenstød med virkeligheden
Den ene fortælling handler om Perecs oplevelser fra hans tid som barn under Anden Verdenskrig i Frankrig. Perec forsøger at efterprøve, hvor korrekte hans minder egentlig er.
Begge Perecs forældre døde under krigen og han sætter sig for at stykke et billede sammen af, hvem de var o
Bob Lopez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan Bristol
George Perec, like his American counterpart Charles Bukowski, had absolutely no interest in comforting his readers with emotionally satisfying reactions to aesthetically pleasing pastoral scenes. You will not find the moral reassurance and softly-lit cameos of Proust and the quaint English estates of K.m. Peyton. Perec, on the other hand, is not gratuitously brutal, and neither is "W". Perec has several narrative projects that run almost counterintuitively to the structure of his textual ambigui ...more
La mia lettura:

"Non scrivo per dire che non dirò niente, non scrivo per dire che non ho niente da dire.
Scrivo: scrivo perché abbiamo vissuto insieme, perché sono stato uno di loro, ombra tra le ombre, corpo vicino ai loro corpi; scrivo perché hanno lasciato in me un’impronta indelebile e la scrittura ne è la traccia: il loro ricordo muore nella scrittura; la scrittura è il ricordo della loro morte e l’affermazione della mia vita".

Il che equivale a dire ch

Ido Hadanny
המלצה של וולר.

אחד הספרים המשונים שיצא לי לקרוא. נתחיל מזה שלספר שתי התחלות שונות, שסותרות אחת את השניה. הוא ממשיך כשני סיפורים שזורים לסירוגין שהקשר בינהם לא טריוויאלי - אוטוביוגרפיה(?) של ג'ורג' פרק (פרץ) בילדותו בצרפת ותאור בדיוני של חברה אוטופית המושתתת על האידיאל האולימפי - ספורט ונצחון.

מאד התרשמתי מזה שבמקום הוודאות שבה מספר המספר את העלילה ברוב הספרים, כאן הסיפור מורכב משכחות, אי דיוקים, תיקונים, סיפורים שקרו לאדם אחר שהסופר זוכר כאילו קרו לו עצמו - בקיצור, איך שאנחנו זוכרים את החיים.
Interesting. Allegorical take on the events in the concentration camps. Perhaps the best "account" I've read of the unseen laws of WWII camps.
But the narrative is fragmented for an engaging reading. The two stories are supposed to weave together, which I did not think happened. I found myself going back to see what the points of continuity were, which took away from the pleasure of reading the book. This made the piece tedious to get through. The writing does not flow smoothly but rather starts
Emine Koseoglu
the writer starts with saying he has no memory about his childhood. but then he starts to tell little things about past. you begin to get lost while reading those memories written very utterly. at the begining you arenot so much interested in the "regular" story of W. then things start to be strange in the island. but you can form no relation between those two parallel stories with the prejudice of reading the existed comments about the book. towards the end of the book, you, with pain and surpr ...more
Je n'écris pas pour dire que je ne dirai rien, je n'écris pas pour dire que je n'ai rien à dire. J'écris : j'écris parce que nous avons vécu ensemble, parce que j'ai été un parmi eux, ombre au milieu de leurs ombres, corps près de leur corps; j'écris parce qu'ils ont laissé en moi leur marque indélébile et que la trace en est l'écriture et le souvenir de leur mort et l'affirmation de ma vie.

A ce souvenir s'associe celui des jeux de mots en forme de comptine où la suite des nombres aboutit généra
J'avais gardé un très bon souvenir de ce roman autobiographique lu au lycée pour la première fois, et je n'ai pas été déçue en le relisant. Des deux récits entremêlés, celui qui relate l'enfance de Perec est mon préféré ; il y mêle des descriptions de photos, des textes plus anciens et des anecdotes qui ressemblent plus à des rêves qu'à de véritables souvenirs. Il en donne généralement plusieurs versions, sans toujours décider laquelle est la plus vraisemblable.
Avertissement à ceux qui n'ont pas
Lee Foust
Two shapes, V and V, side-by-side. Two narratives; One attempting to retrieve childhood memories so vague, contradictory, and without substance that our ability to grasp them as a former reality becomes all but impossible and the other an imaginative tale that becomes so elaborate, precise, and terrifying that it replaces reality while we are reading it. Two lines = a cross, two triangles = the star of David, two crooks = a swastika, and two s = the Gestapo. Somehow, together, the narratives con ...more
Mustafa Aiglon
kitap iki bölümden oluşmakta ve ilk bölümü beni kendine çekti. bir kere artık şuna eminimki arkadaş bu dünyada yazar olacaksan yaraların olacak, anlatacak hikayen olacak. kitabın ilk bölümünden öğrendiğim en işime yarar bilgilerden biri; bir çevirmen notuyla beraber yazarın soyadının nasıl okunacağı meselesiydi. bunu çözmüş oldum. mutluyum. şimdi isminin telafuzunu da öğrenirsem muhteşem olacak. ikinci bölüme baktığımızda gerek hikaye olsun gerekse yazarın çocukluk anıları olsun beni sarmadı. şu ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 82 83 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Enfance
  • L'Abbé C
  • The Ogre
  • The Vice Consul (Pantheon Modern Writers Original)
  • The Opposing Shore
  • The Devil in the Flesh
  • Pierrot Mon Ami
  • Arcanum 17
  • Death Sentence
  • Locus Solus
  • La modification
  • Under Fire
  • Jealousy
  • Le Silence de la mer
  • Viper's Tangle
  • Strait is the Gate (La Porte Etroite)
  • Oulipo Compendium
Georges Perec was a highly-regarded French novelist, filmmaker and essayist. He was a member of the Oulipo group. Many of his novels and essays abound with experimental wordplay, lists and attempts at classification, and they are usually tinged with melancholy.

Perec's first novel, Les Choses (Things: A Story of the Sixties) was awarded the Prix Renaudot in 1965.

In 1978, Perec won the prix Médicis
More about Georges Perec...
Life: A User's Manual A Void Species of Spaces and Other Pieces Things: A Story of the Sixties; A Man Asleep Les choses

Share This Book