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Oulipo Compendium

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  340 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
What do Marcel Duchamp and Italo Calvino have in common? The Oulipo, or Ouvroir de litterature potentielle. Raymond Queneau and Francois Le Lionnais founded their "Workshop for Potential Literature" in 1960 to find out how abstract restrictions could be combined with imaginative writing (as in Georges Perec's notorious novel written without the letter e.) Still formidably ...more
Paperback, 333 pages
Published March 11th 2005 by Atlas Press (GB) (first published 1998)
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MJ Nicholls
This is the seminal English text on the Oulipo in print and contains a comprehensive list of their constraints in practice. The Oulipo can make writing seem fresh and fun again when you have tired of turning out another mediocre paragraph, another attempt to scratch out a literary mainstream novel, another barrelful of shoddy sentences. On the other hand, plenty of these constraints are for professionals only, as the difficulty in putting them into practice (meaningfully), is truly reserved for ...more
Oct 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will either drive you insane with hatred, or you'll love it to death. It will take no prisoners. For those who love literature as word-playing and if you have a strong love for Raymond Queneau or Georges Perec's writing - this volume published by the great Atlas press is just for you.
Adam Floridia
1) a ruse since i scan, i view some versos. i no view sum.

Translation: I'm lying. I didn't "finish" this book. It's not one to be read cover to cover. This is one of those fine books that should always be no more than an arms length away. It is a collection of the mad creative genius writing constraints dreamed up by the mad creative geniuses of OuLiPo. For anyone unfamiliar with the OUvroir de LIttérature POtentielle ("workshop of potential literature"), it was a group of, mainly, writers and m
Liam Guilar
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Oulipians: rats who construct the labyrinth from which they plan to escape".
Presumably on the basis that the more complicated the labyrinth, the harder the rat has to work, the better it feels IF it escapes.
This book elevates literary insanity to a glorious art form.
Tomas Ramanauskas
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gold
Imagine you were invited to a game of which you've never heard, sat down, the game begun and, say, 5 minutes into it, you were already cheering for the teams participating and thinking to yourself - how on earth have I lived without it? This is astonishing.

It's that kind of book.

Stuart Macalpine
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was a must read for the intellectually curious! :) a bit odd but...
Mark Hebwood
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fantastic! Everything you ever needed to know about Oulipo.

What? No, the book has more than one paragraph! Unbelievable. Some people have a cheek... Ok let me rephrase then.

Fantastic! Everything you ever wanted to know about Oulipo.

You wouldn't even need a parapgraph for that? Ok that does it. I give up and do my review without an imagined reader interrupting me all the time.

Yes, some may regard Oulipo and its related groups as highly esoteric forms of experimental art, and I suppose they are,
Jul 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: partially-read
I hesitated to say it but... this is junk. Not that I've read it from cover to cover. I probably never will.

I'm sympathetic to the central idea of Oulipo... I think. Anyway, yeah, devise constraints, make your own goofy rules, use math and secret schemes to guide your work. Fine.

But Oulipo brought together *some* very talented writers (Queneau and Calvino are among my favorite artists). Individually they did some great things, and the idea behind Oulipo may have served each of them in his/her ow
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Peter Auster describes this book as, 'a late 20th century kabala'. It is! It's my book of secrets and mystical word games. My bible of literary fun. It inspires me to do so much more than merely write stories. I have not read it from cover to cover, but I have devoured it, bit by bit, many times over.
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Oulipo doesn't take any prisoners - you are either into it or you're not. And that's perfectly ok. Small club into word or narrative games. Writing as a science with a side of surrealist playfulness. A must for those who are curious and open to have their literature take them to other places. Even silly places!
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory-lit
Crazy, intriguing, amazing. There's the point of an exercise being just that, an exercise, yes. But it makes sense to prove something, to challenge yourself in a way that opens your boundaries.
Eddie Watkins
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pushing-limits
Worth it for Queneau's 100,000,000,000,000 poems alone!
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literature, reviewed
It pains me that this needs to be pointed out, but the point is to take clever wordplay and actually do something with it. Oulipo (and half the Dalkey Archive) remind me of bad science fiction, except sci-fi writers at least bother with a half-assed fig leaf of narrative/characters and don't just publish their ideas in bullet-list form. These "experimental!" Oulipo authors are just the bullet-list, where the execution (or lack thereof) of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 or whatever poems is just as ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved learning more about the origins of this group of surrealist in France. Their ridiculous constraints and rules in language are hilarious and intriguing.
-a constraint is just a mold for language to develop
- limitations are not a boundary but a base for creativity.

Also, surrealism is just so fantastically weird. Thinking about this surrealist group having meetings and creating and changing all the letters 'e' to '.' in their chapter of their collective book makes me happy.
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
oulipo=ouvroir de litterature potentielle (workshop for potential literature). one of the founders, raymond queneau, describes oulipians as "rats who build the labyrinth from which they plan to escape." ha! a delightful collection of their exercises and works.
Oct 25, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've browsed enough of this to consider it "read" for a reference work, though I have yet to get through all of Queneau's 100,000,000,000,000 poems--all of which are included! Nice party trick for the nerds...
Sep 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: experimental, art, writing
A comprehensive, yet not complete, look at Oulipo (Workshop for Potential Literature), its members, some of their works, and its writing strategies/theories/experiments. Also includes sections on some of the other Ou-x-po groups, like Oulipopo and Oupeinpo.
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent texts, these seem the best. Here we see the better sense, the best sense, the excellence, yet excess when needed.
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent anthology of one of my favorite literary "groups".
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Obviously the excerpts from the works are grand, additionally though the whole thing's done in a manner that's at once accessible and light, without losing any of the intellectual poise.
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
En uvurderlig leksikon over OuLiPos mange finurlige projekter og forfattere. Anbefales til alle med bare lidt interesse i eksperimental litteratur. En skattekiste!
Apr 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
Ok, I like the idea of Ou-x-po, but the products really stink. And this book is so ponderously obnoxious I had to fling it away.
Al Matthews
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: standby
Currently I've lent this to Jasen...
Ivan A.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
amazing that this group still gathers! crazy, fascinating and readable .. literature completely different!
AJ Dehany
Jan 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The definitive introduction and reference and resource for all things Oulipian.
Steve Gutin
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The best book about these great writers; a great book about writing. Also lots of fun.
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
less inspirational than i'd've imagined. but then again, i didn't have much time sitting with it.
Robert Boyd
rated it really liked it
Jul 23, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Jul 31, 2007
rated it liked it
Jan 25, 2010
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