Perec Life A User's Manual

  1. Georges Perec Life A User's Manual
  2. Life A User's Manual Pdf
Born7 March 1936
Paris, France
Died3 March 1982 (aged 45)
Ivry-sur-Seine, France
OccupationNovelist, filmmaker, essayist
SpousePaulette Petras
  1. Life A User’s Manual. By Georges Perec is set in 11 rue Simon-Crubellier at 8pm, June 23, 1975. It tells you all you need to know about life. It contains algorithms and puzzles too. 'Life A User’s Manual' is the book I’d take to a desert island. As its title suggests, it tells you everything you need to know about life.
  2. Free download or read online Life A Users Manual pdf (ePUB) book. The first edition of this novel was published in 1978, and was written by Georges Perec. The book was published in multiple languages including English language, consists of 581 pages and is available in Paperback format. The main characters of this fiction, cultural story are,.

Review of Georges Perec: Life a User's Manual. Life A User's Manual is a book for readers, and the more you have read the more you will appreciate the subtle references to other novels and popular culture. But to say so would do injustice to a book that is quite simply a marvel to read. Jan 01, 1988  Buy a cheap copy of La Vie mode d'emploi: romans book by Georges Perec. Over twenty years ago, Godine published the first English translation of Georges Perec's masterpiece, Life A User's Manual, hailed by the Times Literary Supplement. Free shipping over $10.

Georges Perec (born George Peretz) (French: [peʁɛk, pɛʁɛk];[1] 7 March 1936 – 3 March 1982) was a French novelist, filmmaker, documentalist, and essayist. He was a member of the Oulipo group. His father died as a soldier early in the Second World War and his mother was murdered in the Holocaust, and many of his works deal with absence, loss, and identity, often through word play.[2]

  • 5Works

Early life[edit]

Born in a working-class district of Paris, Perec was the only son of Icek Judko and Cyrla (Schulewicz) Peretz, Polish Jews who had emigrated to France in the 1920s. He was a distant relative of the Yiddish writer Isaac Leib Peretz. Perec's father, who enlisted in the French Army during World War II, died in 1940 from untreated gunfire or shrapnel wounds, and his mother perished in the NaziHolocaust, probably in Auschwitz sometime after 1943. Perec was taken into the care of his paternal aunt and uncle in 1942, and in 1945 he was formally adopted by them.



Perec started writing reviews and essays for La Nouvelle Revue française and Les Lettres nouvelles [fr], prominent literary publications, while studying history and sociology at the Sorbonne. In 1958/59 Perec served in the army as a paratrooper (XVIIIe Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes), and married Paulette Petras after being discharged. They spent one year (1960/1961) in Sfax, Tunisia, where Paulette worked as a teacher; these experiences are reflected in Things: A Story of the Sixties, which is about a young Parisian couple who also spend a year in Sfax.

In 1961 Perec began working at the Neurophysiological Research Laboratory in the unit's research library funded by the CNRS and attached to the Hôpital Saint-Antoine as an archivist, a low-paid position which he retained until 1978. A few reviewers have noted that the daily handling of records and varied data may have had an influence on his literary style. In any case, Perec's work on the reassessment of the academic journals under subscription was influenced by a talk about the handling of scientific information given by Eugene Garfield in Paris and he was introduced to Marshall McLuhan by Jean Duvignaud. Perec's other major influence was the Oulipo, which he joined in 1967, meeting Raymond Queneau, among others. Perec dedicated his masterpiece, La Vie mode d'emploi (Life a User's Manual) to Queneau, who died before it was published.

Perec began working on a series of radio plays with his translator Eugen Helmle and the musician Philippe Drogoz [de] in the late 60s; less than a decade later, he was making films. His first work, based on his novel Un Homme qui dort, was co-directed by Bernard Queysanne [fr], and won him the Prix Jean Vigo in 1974. Perec also created crossword puzzles for Le Point from 1976 on.

La Vie mode d'emploi (1978) brought Perec some financial and critical success—it won the Prix Médicis—and allowed him to turn to writing full-time. He was a writer in residence at the University of Queensland, Australia, in 1981, during which time he worked on 53 Jours (53 Days), which he would not finish. Shortly after his return from Australia, his health deteriorated. A heavy smoker, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died the following year in Ivry-sur-Seine, only forty-five years old; his ashes are held at the columbarium of the Père Lachaise Cemetery.


Many of Perec's novels and essays abound with experimental word play, lists and attempts at classification, and they are usually tinged with melancholy.

Perec's first novel Les Choses: Une Histoire des Années Soixante (Things: A Story of the Sixties) (1965) was awarded the Prix Renaudot.

Perec's most famous novel La Vie mode d'emploi (Life a User's Manual) was published in 1978. Its title page describes it as 'novels', in the plural, the reasons for which become apparent on reading. La Vie mode d'emploi is a tapestry of interwoven stories and ideas as well as literary and historical allusions, based on the lives of the inhabitants of a fictitious Parisian apartment block. It was written according to a complex plan of writing constraints, and is primarily constructed from several elements, each adding a layer of complexity. The 99 chapters of his 600-page novel move like a knight's tour of a chessboard around the room plan of the building, describing the rooms and stairwell and telling the stories of the inhabitants. At the end, it is revealed that the whole book actually takes place in a single moment, with a final twist that is an example of 'cosmic irony'. It was translated into English by David Bellos in 1987.

Perec is noted for his constrained writing. His 300-page novel La disparition (1969) is a lipogram, written with natural sentence structure and correct grammar, but using only words that do not contain the letter 'e'. It has been translated into English by Gilbert Adair under the title A Void (1994). His novella Les revenentes (1972) is a complementary univocalic piece in which the letter 'e' is the only vowel used. This constraint affects even the title, which would conventionally be spelt Revenantes. An English translation by Ian Monk was published in 1996 as The Exeter Text: Jewels, Secrets, Sex in the collection Three. It has been remarked by Jacques Roubaud that these two novels draw words from two disjoint sets of the French language, and that a third novel would be possible, made from the words not used so far (those containing both 'e' and a vowel other than 'e').

W ou le souvenir d'enfance, (W, or the Memory of Childhood, 1975) is a semi-autobiographical work which is hard to classify. Two alternating narratives make up the volume: one, a fictional outline of a remote island country called 'W', at first appears to be a utopian society modeled on the Olympic ideal, but is gradually exposed as a horrifying, totalitarian prison much like a concentration camp. The second narrative is a description of Perec's own childhood during and after World War II. Both narratives converge towards the end, highlighting the common theme of the Holocaust.

'Cantatrix sopranica L. Scientific Papers' is a spoof scientific paper detailing experiments on the 'yelling reaction' provoked in sopranos by pelting them with rotten tomatoes. All the references in the paper are multi-lingual puns and jokes, e.g. '(Karybb & Szyla, 1973)'.[3]

David Bellos, who has translated several of Perec's works, wrote an extensive biography of Perec: Georges Perec: A Life in Words, which won the Académie Goncourt's bourse for biography in 1994.

The Association Georges Perec has extensive archives on the author in Paris.[4]

In 1992 Perec's initially rejected novel Gaspard pas mort (Gaspard not dead), which was believed to be lost, was found by David Bellos amongst papers in the house of Perec's friend Alain Guérin [fr]. The novel was reworked several times and retitled Le Condottière [fr][5] and published in 2012; its English translation by Bellos followed in 2014 as Portrait of a Man after the 1475 painting of that name by Antonello da Messina.[6] The initial title borrows the name Gaspard from the Paul Verlaine poem 'Gaspar Hauser Chante'[7] and characters named 'Gaspard' appear in both W, or the Memory of Childhood and Life a User's Manual, while in 'MICRO-TRADUCTIONS, 15 variations discrètes sur un poème connu' he creatively re-writes the Verlaine poem 15 times.


Asteroidno. 2817, discovered in 1982, was named after Perec. In 1994, a street in the 20th arrondissement of Paris was named after him, rue Georges-Perec [fr]. The French postal service issued a stamp in 2002 in his honour; it was designed by Marc Taraskoff and engraved by Pierre Albuisson. For his work, Perec won the Prix Renaudot in 1965, the Prix Jean Vigo in 1974, the Prix Médicis in 1978. He was featured as a Google Doodle on his 80th birthday.[8]



The most complete bibliography of Perec's works is Bernard Magné's Tentative d'inventaire pas trop approximatif des écrits de Georges Perec (Toulouse, Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 1993).

YearOriginal FrenchEnglish translation
1965Les Choses: Une histoire des années soixante (Paris: René Juillard, 1965)Les choses: A Story of the Sixties, trans. by Helen Lane (New York: Grove Press, 1967);
Things: A Story of the Sixties in Things: A Story of the Sixties & A Man Asleep trans. by David Bellos and Andrew Leak (London: Vintage, 1999)
1966Quel petit vélo à guidon chromé au fond de la cour? (Paris: Denoël, 1966)Which Moped with Chrome-plated Handlebars at the Back of the Yard?, trans. by Ian Monk in Three by Perec (Harvill Press, 1996)
1967Un homme qui dort (Paris: Denoël, 1967)A Man Asleep, trans. by Andrew Leak in Things: A Story of the Sixties & A Man Asleep (London: Vintage, 1999)
1969La Disparition (Paris: Denoël, 1969)A Void, trans. by Gilbert Adair (London: Harvill, 1994)
1969Petit traité invitant à la découverte de l'art subtil du go, with Pierre Lusson and Jacques Roubaud (Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1969)
1972Les Revenentes, (Paris: Editions Julliard, 1972)The Exeter Text: Jewels, Secrets, Sex, trans. by Ian Monk in Three by Perec (Harvill Press, 1996)
1972Die Maschine, (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1972)The Machine, trans. by Ulrich Schönherr in 'The Review of Contemporary Fiction: Georges Perec Issue: Spring 2009 Vol. XXIX, No. 1' (Chicago: Dalkey Archive, 2009)
1973La Boutique obscure: 124 rêves, (Paris: Denoël, 1973)La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams, trans. by Daniel Levin Becker (Melville House, 2013)
1974Espèces d'espaces [fr] (Paris: Galilée 1974)Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, ed. and trans. by John Sturrock (London: Penguin, 1997; rev. ed. 1999)
1974Ulcérations, (Bibliothèque oulipienne, 1974)
1975W ou le souvenir d'enfance (Paris: Denoël, 1975)W, or the Memory of Childhood, trans. by David Bellos (London: Harvill, 1988)
1975Tentative d'épuisement d'un lieu parisien (Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1975)An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, trans. by Marc Lowenthal (Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press, 2010)
1976Alphabets illust. by Dado (Paris: Galilée, 1976)
1978Je me souviens, (Paris: Hachette, 1978)Memories, trans./adapted by Gilbert Adair (in Myths and Memories London: Harper Collins, 1986);
I Remember, trans. by Philip Terry and David Bellos (Boston: David R. Godine, 2014)
1978La Vie mode d'emploi (Paris: Hachette, 1978)Life a User's Manual, trans. by David Bellos (London: Vintage, 2003)
1979Les mots croisés, (Mazarine, 1979)
1979Un cabinet d'amateur, (Balland, 1979)A Gallery Portrait, trans. by Ian Monk in Three by Perec (Harvill Press, 1996)
1979film-script: Alfred et Marie, 1979
1980La Clôture et autres poèmes, (Paris: Hachette, 1980) – Contains a palindrome of 1,247 words (5,566 letters).[9]
1980Récits d'Ellis Island: Histoires d'errance et d'espoir, (INA/Éditions du Sorbier, 1980)Ellis Island and the People of America (with Robert Bober), trans. by Harry Mathews (New York: New Press, 1995)
1981Théâtre I, (Paris: Hachette, 1981)
1982Epithalames, (Bibliothèque oulipienne, 1982)
1982prod: Catherine Binet's Les Jeux de la Comtesse Dolingen de Gratz, 1980–82
1985Penser Classer (Paris: Hachette, 1985)'Thoughts of Sorts', trans. by David Bellos (Boston: David R. Godine, 2009)
1986Les mots croisés II, (P.O.L.-Mazarine, 1986)
198953 Jours, unfinished novel ed. by Harry Mathews and Jacques Roubaud (Paris: P.O.L., 1989)53 Days, trans. by David Bellos (London: Harvill, 1992)
1989L'infra-ordinaire (Paris: Seuil, 1989)
1989Voeux, (Paris: Seuil, 1989)
1990Je suis né, (Paris: Seuil, 1990)
1991Cantatrix sopranica L. et autres écrits scientifiques, (Paris: Seuil, 1991)'Cantatrix sopranica L. Scientific Papers' with Harry Mathews (London: Atlas Press, 2008)
1992L.G.: Une aventure des années soixante, (Paris: Seuil, 1992)

Containing pieces written from 1959–1963 for the journal La Ligne générale: Le Nouveau Roman et le refus du réel; Pour une littérature réaliste; Engagement ou crise du langage; Robert Antelme ou la vérité de la littérature; L'univers de la science-fiction; La perpétuelle reconquête; Wozzeck ou la méthode de l'apocalypse.

1993Le Voyage d'hiver, 1993 (Paris: Seuil, 1993)The Winter Journey, trans. by John Sturrock (London: Syrens, 1995)
1994Beaux présents belles absentes, (Paris: Seuil, 1994)
1999Jeux intéressants (Zulma, 1999)
1999Nouveaux jeux intéressants (Zulma, 1999)
2003Entretiens et conférences (in 2 volumes, Joseph K., 2003)
2012Le Condottière (Éditions du Seuil, 2012)Portrait of a Man Known as Il Condottiere, translated by David Bellos (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014)
2016L'Attentat de Sarajevo (Éditions du Seuil, 2016)


  • Un homme qui dort, 1974 (with Bernard Queysanne, English title: The Man Who Sleeps)
  • Les Lieux d'une fugue, 1975
  • Série noire (Alain Corneau, 1979)
  • Ellis Island (TV film with Robert Bober)


  1. ^Jenny Davidson, Reading Style: A Life in Sentences, Columbia University Press, 2014, p. 107: 'I have an almost Breton name which everyone spells as Pérec or Perrec—my name isn't written exactly as it is pronounced.'
  2. ^David Bellos (1993). Georges Perec. A life in words. London: Harvill/HarperCollins. ISBN0879239808.
  3. ^'Mise en évidence expérimentale d'une organisation tomatotopique chez la soprano (Cantatrix sopranica L.)'(in French)
    'Experimental demonstration of the tomatotopic organization in the Soprano (Cantatrix sopranica L.)'
  4. ^'Association Georges Perec'.
  5. ^'The Letter Vanishes' by James Gibbons, Bookforum, December/January 2006
  6. ^'Georges Perec's Lost Novel' by David Bellos, The New York Review of Books, 8 April 2015
  7. ^David Bellos (1993). Georges Perec: A Life in Words : a Biography. D.R. Godine. p. 108. ISBN978-0-87923-980-0.
  8. ^'Georges Perec's 80th Birthday'. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  9. ^Georges Perec: 'Le grand palindrome' in La clôture et autre poèmes, Hachette/Collection P.O.L., 1980

Further reading[edit]


  • Georges Perec: A Life in Words by David Bellos (1993)


Georges Perec Life A User's Manual

  • The Poetics of Experiment: A Study of the Work of Georges Perec by Warren Motte (1984)
  • Perec ou les textes croisés by J. Pedersen (1985). In French.
  • Pour un Perec lettré, chiffré by J.-M. Raynaud (1987). In French.
  • Georges Perec by Claude Burgelin (1988). In French.
  • Georges Perec: Traces of His Passage by Paul Schwartz (1988)
  • Perecollages 1981–1988 by Bernard Magné (1989). In French.
  • La Mémoire et l'oblique by Philippe Lejeune (1991). In French.
  • Georges Perec: Ecrire Pour Ne Pas Dire by Stella Béhar (1995). In French.
  • Poétique de Georges Perec: «..une trace, une marque ou quelques signes» by Jacques-Denis Bertharion (1998) In French.
  • Georges Perec Et I'Histoire, ed. by Carsten Sestoft & Steen Bille Jorgensen (2000). In French.
  • La Grande Catena. Studi su 'La Vie mode d'emploi' by Rinaldo Rinaldi (2004). In Italian.

External links[edit]

Life A User's Manual Pdf

  • Petri Liukkonen. 'Georges Perec'. Books and Writers
  • Université McGill: le roman selon les romanciers (French) Inventory and analysis of Georges Perec non-novelistic writings about the novel
  • Perec's 'Negative Autobiography' at the Wayback Machine (archived 23 December 2007)
  • Récits d'Ellis Island' on IMDb
  • Un homme qui dort on IMDb
  • Les Lieux d'une fuge on IMDb
  • Georges Perec on IMDb
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Just a quick note on the section entitled 'The Novel'. Bartlebooth doesn't fall in love with Marguerite Winckler, Serge Valene does. See p246: 'Valene declared to the young woman that he loved her, and obtained in reply only an ineffable smile.' I also agree that much more could be done on this entry. While it's obviously pretty hard to explain a lot of this stuff, I really don't think we've managed to capture yet what is so great about the novel. I might have a go at some point. We'll have to see if I can find the time. James


Just a quick note on the section entitled 'The Novel.' Bartlebooth doesn't fall in love with Marguerite Winckler, Serge Valene does. See p246 in Bellos' translation: 'Valene declared to the young woman that he loved her, and obtained in reply only an ineffable smile.' For what it's worth, I also agree that this entry needs an update. While it's obviously very hard to do justice to a novel like this here, I think we can do better. I'll see if I can find the time to have a go at some point. James

Doesn't look like anyone has been working intently on this page in awhile. I'd like to expand it some more, some of the sections are quite good, but some are rather short and perhaps a little too brief for those who have not actually read the novel. I also think the page coul possibly use to be reorganized a little bit -- perhaps find some way to integrate the 'novel' section with the 'elements' section? Any suggestions?JKillah 15:48, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

Capitalization police please note: 'La Vie mode d'emploi' is exactly how the title appears in both of my copies. :-) -- user:Tarquin

Proper names of things like books need to have the capitalization the the author of the book placed on his/her book. This is a noted exception to the capitalization rule. However, my searches indicate that the title is sometimes expressed with a lowercase 'v', as in, La vie mode d'emploi. But since the capitalization is correct, in this case, I think a redirect is in order from the lowercase term to the properly capitalized term. Thank you for noting the correct capitalization here - It would bave been difficult for me to find this out by trying to translate those search results. --maveric149

I don't want to trespass too much on matters about which others know more than I, but .. Am I right in thinking that the construction of the apartment block is in fact a graeco-latin square of order 10? The interesting thing here is that Leonhard Euler had believed that no such array existed but it was constructed by computer search in 1959. Cutler 11:18, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC)

yes, that's right. I wrote 'double Latin square' because I wasn't sure of the English translation. -- Tarquin 10:54, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Today I added a section on the word puzzles contained in the novel, along with some specifics on the Chapter 51 puzzle with a quote from David Bellos he shared with me via email.

There's no ':' in the title of the English translation.. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:01, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

Agreed- the full title in English, reflecting the French original, is 'Life A User's Manual' but I can't work out how to Edit the title of this page (can it be done?). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:26, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Three questions[edit]

1. Why is the cross section on p. 501 of the English translation drawn incorrectly? It looks like a 10x9, not 10x10 square (shouldn't the rooms of Hutting, Cinoc, Réol, and Berger drawn wider?)

2. In chapter 51 the list of 179 stories has the word 'ego' embedded in them — why is that? Incidentally, the translator's skill on display there is simply astonishing.

3. The mathematics on p. 7 has errors in it and is also a typographic disaster zone. Is the French original similarly bad? Seems like Perec would be the type of man to make sure the thing is as accurate as possible. In the English version everything looks wrong: the spacing, the typeface, the misunderstood math symbols, missing parentheses, etc. etc.JanBielawski (talk) 06:39, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Ewart7034 18:08, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

An issue with the article[edit]

The passage La Vie mode d'emploi is an immensely complex and rich work; a tapestry of interwoven stories and ideas and literary and historical allusions seems in breach of WP:EDITORIAL and WP:NPOV.Autarch (talk) 12:42, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

Does anyone know the answer?[edit]

On page 415 (English translation) we are given four riddles with no answers:

(1) Who was John Leland's friend? (Thomas Wyatt; this answer can be found in the book's index!)
(2) Who was threatened by a railway-share? (The Snark in The Hunting of the Snark)
(3) Who was Sheraton? (Thomas Sheraton)
(4) Who shaved the old man's beard?

Does anyone know the answer to this fourth riddle? (talk) 00:34, 25 December 2010 (UTC)


The section entitled constraints isn't at all well explained - the part about the lists and how they match up is very confused. It either needs rewording, or an illustraive diagram needs to be added. Also references for this section? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:51, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

The missing colon in 'Life (:) A User's Manual'[edit]

The image shown on the main page has the colon, implicitly. The line break is the colon.
If there were really no colon there, then the title would have been written:

The British Library has 2 records for this book:

I see ^^^^^ punctuation here. Don't you?
Restore the deleted colon. Varlaam (talk) 04:34, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

I agree; the article ought to be moved back to Life: A User's Manual where it was created and stayed until 28 October 2011. It's the book's commonly used title. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 01:32, 27 December 2016 (UTC)

David Bellos' biography of Perec renders the title colonless, as do the translations of Perec's writings in the Oulipo Compendium edited by Harry Perec's friend and collaborator Harry Mathews. It seems fair to assume Perec's intended title is colonless. [Anonymous User, 21/02/2017]

Requested move 3 August 2018[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Moved. No objections and seems fair enough. It's found with a colon in some places, e.g. Amazon, and although many other sources don't have a colon, but equally they don't have a lower-case 'a' either, so the current title isn't really any good. — Amakuru (talk) 18:06, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

Life a User's Manual → Life: A User's Manual – Per MOS:TITLES and the typical way this is rendered in English (exact styling varies: Life: A User's Manual, Life: a User's Manual, Life, a User's Manual, Life – A User's Manual, etc.), but it's clearly treated as a subtitle. There are also occurrence of just Life a User's Manual, but they're not even faintly close to a consistent style employed across the majority of RS, so we have no reason to depart from MOS:TITLES; there is no WP:IAR case to make here. The current page title is ungrammatical and confusing.  — SMcCandlish☏¢ 😼  16:56, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.
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