A Void by Georges Perec
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's review
Mar 02, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: literature, oulipo
Recommended for: all translators

I'm fascinated by writing generated by formal restraints. Perec & Raymond Roussell are probably the 2 writers who pursued this approach the most. Perec's "La Disparition" wd be translated into English as "The Disappearance" but then the title wd have the letter "e" in it & the formal constraint of the whole bk is that "e" is missing. As such, translator Gilbert Adair had to not only translate the sense of the bk but had to also translate the form of it by excluding the letter "e". Given that "e" is the most commonly used letter in both French & English, this is phenomenally difficult. At any rate, he did an EXCELLENT job. Astonishingly enuf, I've been told that there's also a translation by Harry Mathews (another OuLiPo writer). I've never seen that one. It wd be interesting to take the 2 translations together & do something w/ them -maybe recombine them & trasnlate them back into French using ONLY words containing "e". This is yet-another bk in my top-10 favorites. Perec has TWO bks in that list. Alas, there're probably at least 20 bks in my top 10 so waddya make of that?

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