Sunday, July 18, 2010

OuLiPo, A Literary Trend And On Mice Who Invent Their Own Labyrinths


OuLiPo or oulipo (an acronym for ouvroir de littérature potentielle = workshop of potential literature) is a literary current, born in France in 1964.

OuLiPo continues to inspire new literary experiments, some of them of note, such as Eunoia (in 2002), which I mentioned in a previous post.
Started by the poet Raymond Queneau and the mathematician François Le Lyonais, OuLiPo has engendered literary creations that explore forms of art governed by self-imposed constraints. What are some of these constraints?

A long list of constraints can be found on the official web site of OuLiPo.
Here is one, called “Anaérobie”  (anaerobia) created by Luc Etienne.:

By setting the text in a condition of asphyxiation by removing all “R”’s  we obtain a new text which is called the anaerobia of the first. 

Molded by the corset of the oulipian constraints, several notable contemporary literary creations have sprung forth. 

George Perec published La Disparition in 1969, a 300 page lipogrammatic novel written without the letter “e”. This book was translated in English in 1995  by Gilbert Adair under the title A Void.

Other oulipian authors are Italo Calvino and Marcel Duchamp.

Oulipians like to define themselves, in a formula that is now part of the oulipian heraldry as “mice who invent their own labyrinths.”

2 comments:

John Hayes said...

Nice write-up on OuLiPoit's striking how much this operates on a visual level (removing letters, for instance).

Irina said...

Thanks John for stopping by...I agree, it's all very interesting, feels like playing "GO" with an experienced opponent and in total darkness as to the rules.

Which - should account for some creative adrenaline rush.

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