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W ou le souvenir d'enfance

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,793 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
Il a dans ce livre deux textes simplement alternés : il pourrait presque sembler qu'ils n'ont rien en commun, mais ils sont pourtant inextricablement enchevêtrés, comme si aucun des deux ne pouvait exister seul, comme si de leur rencontre seule, de cette lumière lointains qu'ils jettent l'un sur l'autre, pouvait se révéler ce qui n'est jamais tout à fait dit dans l'un, jam ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 222 pages
Published April 2nd 1993 by Editions Gallimard (first published 1975)
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Garima
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
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Geoff
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Federman’s body of work, here Perec is undertaking the terrible task of writing around the Shoah. For Perec, such a task is unavoidable, if he, as a writer, is to write an autobiography. As he says somewhere near the beginning of this book, he has no childhood memories, his history was written for him by History itself. W, the double-V, dooble-veh, twin Vs side-by-side, as a symbol manipulable into any number of iterations- turn it upside down it becomes the “M” of memory, join the twin Vs ...more
MJ Nicholls
Perec’s novel is one of the most incredible, inventive, stupefying, humble, and devastating books to indirectly confront the Holocaust. A masterpiece, as this quote proves:

“How can you explain that what he is seeing is not anything horrific, not a nightmare, not something he will suddenly wake from, something he can rid his mind of? How can you explain that this is life, real life, this is what there’ll be every day, this is what there is, and nothing else, that it’s pointless believing somethin
...more
Vit Babenco
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For years I sought out traces of my history, looking up maps and directories and piles of archives. I found nothing, and it sometimes seemed as though I had dreamt, that there had been only an unforgettable nightmare.
W, or the Memory of Childhood is a duad of parallel narrations: first is a true story of the childhood, ruined by the war and fascism, and the second is a pure fiction of Olympic utopia…
“A triple theme runs through this memory: parachute, sling, truss: it suggests suspension, supp
...more
Fionnuala
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
...more
Whitaker
'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
...more
Stephen Durrant
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ümit
Çok iyi be. Perec, her zamanki gibi çok iyi.

Aslında kitabın ikinci bölümü, ilk önce bir hayli sıkıcı geldi; More'un Ütopya'sının sportif bir versiyonuydu zira, W ülkesinde anlatılan. Oysa satırlar ilerledikçe iş nasıl da değişti, nasıl da istediği yere yavaş yavaş getirdi lafı Perec!

Paralel ilerleyen anılar kısmı da, bir 'envanter üstadı' olarak bildiğimiz Perec'in kusursuz anlatımıyla doluydu. Hakkında bir dolu şey öğrendim ayrıca, mesela en başta, aslında Polonyalı olduğunu (bunu bilmemek belk
...more
Jeff Jackson
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-2
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
...more
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
...more
Lee
Jan 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sam
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Esther
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Ben Winch
I didn’t get this. A “gutpunch”, as one reader would have it? Hell, maybe all that core-conditioning in karate is paying off, cos my guts were unscathed. Me, I found this dry, vapid, very tenuous. The link between the two strands I found slight, the link between the first and second halves of the second strand (ie: the Land-of-W part) non-existent, the whole thing half-baked though not a bad (if risky) idea in theory. Oh, and I thought the analogy (olympics to concentration camp) was a stretch. ...more
Pečivo
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: svíčková
V této knize se Perec snaží dát dohromady střípky svýho dětství na který nemá mnoho vzpomínek. A já mu úplně rozumím. Sám totiž nevím asi až do mých 10ti let, která bije. A toluen sem nečuchal. Jen párkrat omylem ředidlo, když sem přišel pozdě do školy a musel za trest špachtlí a ředidlem škrabat žvejkačky z podlahy.

Tenhle francouzskej Václav upír Krejčí, co často strkal vidličku do zásuvky, vyrůstal za války ve Francii. Rodiče byli z Polska a taťka to nedal na frontě a mamka bohužel tě pic a n
...more
James
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Karielle
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
...more
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
...more
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
Claudia Savage
Jun 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Solange te parle
Aug 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Ce n'est pas le Perec que je préfère. Il m'aura sûrement manqué des bribes de la biographie de l'auteur pour tout assimiler. Dans le genre vagues souvenirs d'une enfance meurtrie pendant la guerre, mon cœur appartient à Modiano ! Reste que la description de la vie W (la lettre étant employée comme adjectif) vous en bouche un coin.
Eimhin
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this when I was very young. Don't really remember it 4 stars is a pure guess
Sam
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
E
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second half brings it home. What starts out as an attempt at clearing bleary recollection and memory of lineage becomes a story (as per the composite of the two) of how "bigger" and far more unjust forces--in this case, the cruelty of rules and whimsies in W, and the Holocaust--eclipse the particularities and curiosities of one's individual life, the truth or immovability of which continues to persist despite its apparent and revolting menace.

"How can you explain that this is life, real life, th
...more
Andrew
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.
Baris Balcioglu
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My note says I loved the book. Then I must read it in the original.
Julius Light
Reading about the Sport Life of a mythical place called W opened my eyes even further to the sheer horrors of the Holocaust. Yeah, you people were following orders, but can any sane, rational human being force people only because they're of a particular ethnicity and culture to undergo such harsh treatment and oppression, and still call himself or herself a human being? I get it, disobey orders and you probably die, but all the same... It's terrible.

A proud father of two girls, who wakes up one
...more
Sebastian
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd like to come back and write something more substantial and detailed in the future, but the brilliant reviewers on here have already done that in droves. Instead, I'll leave this as my immediate response, having just finished the book a few minutes ago.

W is, at its core, two stories. The first (Perec's fractured memoir) sets out to explore some questions about memory and its deceptions: Why does it lie to us? How does it lie to us? In which cases are those lies made evident to us, and in whic
...more
Libby
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I always think of Perec as this super playful dude who was just crazy imaginative and clever with language - and, yeah, this has all of that, but it's also horrible.

It's half about a childhood he can't remember with a father who died on the front and a mother who was killed in Auschwitz (there's this horrible line, I am paraphrasing the French here, but his Polish mother returned to her childhood country to die and it's just - awful) and half about all the stuff he invented in his childhood to,
...more
Michael James
Its like 3 stories in 1 and that was confusing for a bit. It begins quite suggestive when the main character meets a mysterious stranger and then follows by childhood memories of the main character.

But suddenly half of the book describes a fictional island called W while the strange meeting comes to an end and we from time to time return to the childhood memories. It felt like it was too much focus on creating a mythical and epic place but theres a huge and tragic metaphorical twist in the end
...more
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  • Enfance
  • Georges Perec: A Life in Words
  • Witch Grass
  • The Vice Consul
  • L'Abbé C
  • The Ogre
  • Arcanum 17 (Green Integer)
  • Under Fire
  • Jealousy
  • The Devil in the Flesh
  • Autoportrait
  • A Balcony in the Forest
  • Oulipo Compendium
  • La Modification
  • Aurélien
  • Strait is the Gate
  • Locus Solus
  • La Place
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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
More about Georges Perec...
“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 : leur souvenir est mort à l'écriture ; l'écriture est le souvenir de leur mort et l'affirmation de ma vie.” 0 likes
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