December 21, 2004 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Oulipo. Originally founded by author Raymond Queneau and mathematical historian François Le Lionnais, this group (literally the Workshop for Potential Literature- Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle,) sought to create and incorporate restrictive techniques and methods into their writing. The circle has since expanded, welcoming those outside of France and beyond literary genius. Oulipo and its effects upon the literary world still exist today.

Some products of this group's eccentricity are a novel lacking the letter "e" (in both original French and its English translation) (by Georges Perec, who also needs a direct link here), a novel both self-referential and circular, and 100,000,000,000,000 sonnets made from interchangeable lines.
posted by hopeless romantique (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Love OuLiPo. Potential Literature has always been my favorite. I remember the first time I read Raymond Roussel I thought something had gone wrong with my head, but in a good way. He made Borges and Flann O'Brien seem like they were copying from his throw aways.

My favorite OuLiPo-ian is Harry Mathews, the only American member. I'm reading Life: A User's Manual by his best friend Perec right now.
posted by OmieWise at 11:34 AM on December 21, 2004

Great post, hopeless. I'm only halfway through the links and already have had my mind stretched and squashed in various ways.

I remember reading Queneau's "Zazie dans la Metro" in college and feeling like I had pretty much gotten it, while still being ever-so-slightly confused. Then I saw the movie version, and was, and remain, thoroughly confused.

This isn't a double, since the links themselves are all, or mostly, new, but here's a previous oulipo thread.
posted by soyjoy at 11:39 AM on December 21, 2004

I read L:AUM early this year, which got me started on this whole kick of gorgeous literature. Somewhere early on in that book there's a long list and on one page of it the letter "g" travels up diagonally through every line. Simply incredible.
posted by hopeless romantique at 11:44 AM on December 21, 2004

Great variety of links, h.r.! A previous discussion.

I'll be the first to admit that having grown up playing algorithm-driven video games might have something to do with my interest in the realm of the "potential" or "process-driven" literature of the Oulipo. (Insert obligatory GTxA link every time literature and video games come up together.) As a result of this aesthetic, the Ouplio produces some unreadable dreck at times (IMO), but I can't help but admire the boundaries they're trying to push. And the good stuff is simply mind-boggling.
posted by DaShiv at 11:48 AM on December 21, 2004

Genius stuff. Thanks!
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:50 AM on December 21, 2004

Did Georges Perec list his name as Gorgs Prc for his novel lacking the letter 'e'?
posted by Rashomon at 2:11 PM on December 21, 2004

I gotta paste in this "N+7" quote.
    In the bend God created the hen and the education. And the education was without founder, and void; and death was upon the falsehood of the demand. And the sport of God moved upon the falsehood of the wealth. And God said, Let there be limit; and there was limit.
And that Excercises in style comic could be an FPP in itself. Not that MAD hasn't already done it a few dozen times, but this one has the Oulipo cred to fill it out.
posted by soyjoy at 2:39 PM on December 21, 2004

thanks much, hr! i got into OuLiPo during a class taught by Gilbert Sorrentino called Generative Devices.

Queneau is my favorite, but A Void (in translation) was excellent, as was Harry Mathews' Tlooth.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:41 PM on December 21, 2004

Amazing example of constrained writing (and old school for the web, too, dating back to 1996): Cadaeic Cadenza
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:23 PM on December 21, 2004

Wow, at first I thought the FPP was referring to (the now defunct) Suprnova.org

Gotta get over the loss...
posted by astern at 5:55 PM on December 21, 2004

One stop shopping for your Oulipo literary needs at the Dalkey Arcive Press. Harry Mathews' Cigarettes is also a stunna.

Not very Oulipo-esqu, but I love a book they published this year, Mr. Dynamite. Story of my life, had I taken a few wrong turns, I suppose.
posted by bendybendy at 5:56 PM on December 21, 2004

I have had a mad crush on Perec since they published his list of food in Granta a zillion years ago.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:20 PM on December 21, 2004

Don't forget Oubapo.

Disclaimer: I was one of the founders of the now abandoned OuBaPo UK project, and the last link (a self-link) is to the first (and only) newsletter we did. It does have some information you may find useful contained therein though...
posted by ninthart at 5:38 AM on December 22, 2004

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