Item #2674 La vie mode d’emploiwith: La disparition. GEORGES PEREC.
La vie mode d’emploiwith: La disparition
La vie mode d’emploiwith: La disparition
La vie mode d’emploiwith: La disparition
La vie mode d’emploiwith: La disparition
La vie mode d’emploiwith: La disparition
La vie mode d’emploiwith: La disparition

La vie mode d’emploi
with: La disparition

“The oddest piece of French in the whole book was its title. It was simply not normal to say “x mode d’emploi”, with no comma, colon or period between… Little by little, La vie mode d’emploi simply became part of the French language.”
– David Bellos, Georges Perec: A Life in Words, pp. 638–39


One of the active members of the experimental mid-century French literary circle Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle; “potential literature workshop”), Perec is know for his invention of new literary feats and forms. The present work, La vie mode d’emploi, is Perec’s grand realisation of his ambitions, wherein the events in the lives of the inhabitants of a fictional Paris apartment block are recounted in a series of “Romans” (“Novels”), plural, as the cover and title-page indicate.

Jacques Bens, to whom Perec inscribed the present copy, was one of the founders of Oulipo, and acted as the group’s secretary. Bens’ connection to the circle was in part due to his work under Raymond Queneau at Gallimard between 1960 and 1963. In addition to crafting his own literary works, Bens was also a prolific cruciverbalist, and worked with Perec on the games-and-puzzles sections of magazines including Télérama and Ça m’intéresse

One of the more overt demonstrations of the writing constraints Perec would challenge himself to is his 1969 La disparition, which famously does not contain the letter ‘e’. A sample sentence might include: “Tout avait l’air à abandon. Il trove un puits tari qui abritait trois gros tatous. Un humus grouillant couvrait tout l’aquarium.” Incidentally, “e” constitutes four of the five vowels in Perec’s name and the letter is unavoidable in the novel’s prefatory material, and so perhaps in light of this the dust-jacket is adorned with one giant “e”.

The rare first edition, first printing of La disparition is offered here alongside La vie mode d’emploi.

PEREC, GEORGES. La vie mode d’emploi. Paris: Hachette (Collection P.O.L.), 1978. First edition, first printing of 25 August 1978. Octavo, 1–699, [700]–[704] pp. Original wrappers. Inscribed by Perec on half-title to Perec’s fellow OuLiPo member and co-founder Jacques Bens: “A Jacques | Son ami | Georges Perec”; inscribed by owner in pencil on front free endpaper: “J. Bens”; with publisher’s envoi to register for news on future POL editions as issued. Some creasing to wrappers and spine from use, light toning across text-block; otherwise fine.


PEREC, GEORGES. La disparition. Paris: Denoël, 1969. First edition, first printing of 29 March 1969. Slim octavo (4½ x 5⅞ in; 114 x 149 mm). 319, [1] pp. Original wrappers with dust-jacket, prefatory and concluding material printed in red. Some general wear to the dust-jacket and wrappers, small tears to the spine from use, light toning throughout; a very good copy.

Price: $4,800 .

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