‘Life. A User’s Manual’ by Georges Perec is a story of one day and a whole century in the life of a Paris townhouse, through whose interiors the author guides the reader using the knight’s move. The book consists of 99 carefully designed chapters-rooms, connected with one another like a puzzle with extremely rich symbolism. Italo Calvino called the book ‘the last true development in the history of the novel’, and due to its spatial composition it can also be regarded as one of the most spectacular manifestations of liberature as word architecture.
The sophisticated language and innovative structure are exquisitely rendered in the translation by Wawrzyniec Brzozowski, first published in 2001. The current edition, published as Volume 7 in the series ‘Liberatura’, has been revised by the translator and the errors from the first edition have been removed. A significant novelty is the fact that, unlike in the first edition, the original length of chapters (measured in pages) has been retained, following the author’s list of formal constraints which he used while writing the novel.
Georges Perec (1936-1982) was a French prose writer and poet of Polish-Jewish origin, one of the most eminent 20th century writers. He is renowned for the sophisticated formal discipline he followed. He is also one of the major exponents of the famous OuLiPo Workshop of Potential Literature, which he joined in 1967. His oeuvre was particularly marked by the tragic experience of war, in which he lost his parents. To voice his loss, he wrote the lipogram-novel ‘La Disparition’ (1969) [‘A Void’ (1994)], which excludes the letter ‘e’ (pronounced the same as the word eux – they). The writer is known in Poland mainly for his debut novel ‘Les Choses’ (1965) [‚Things: A Story of the Sixties’ (1999)], which made him internationally famous, and his currently re-issued 700-pages-long opus-magnum ‘Life. A User’s Manual’ (1978), considered one of the greatest novels of our time.
The book is published in the Liberatura series of the Ha!art Corporation