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  1. Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature
    Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature
    Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature
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  2. Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (3 reviews)
    Price R869.00

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What sort of society could bind together Jacques Roubaud, Italo Calvino, Marcel Duchamp, and Raymond Queneau—and Daniel Levin Becker, a young American obsessed with language play? Only the Oulipo, the Paris-based experimental collective founded in 1960 and fated to become one of literature’s quirkiest movements.

An international organization of writers, artists, and scientists who embrace formal and procedural constraints to achieve literature’s possibilities, the Oulipo (the French acronym stands for “workshop for potential literature”) is perhaps best known as the cradle of Georges Perec’s novel A Void, which does not contain the letter e. Drawn to the Oulipo’s mystique, Levin Becker secured a Fulbright grant to study the organization and traveled to Paris. He was eventually offered membership, becoming only the second American to be admitted to the group. From the perspective of a young initiate, the Oulipians and their projects are at once bizarre and utterly compelling. Levin Becker’s love for games, puzzles, and language play is infectious, calling to mind Elif Batuman’s delight in Russian literature in The Possessed.

In recent years, the Oulipo has inspired the creation of numerous other collectives: the OuMuPo (a collective of DJs), the OuMaPo (marionette players), the OuBaPo (comic strip artists), the OuFlarfPo (poets who generate poetry with the aid of search engines), and a menagerie of other Ou-X-Pos (workshops for potential something). Levin Becker discusses these and other intriguing developments in this history and personal appreciation of an iconic—and iconoclastic—group.

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Daniel Levin Becker
Harvard University Press
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

I was prepared to be less than enthralled with the subject matter of this book. Somehow the idea of writing books with various constraints, such as the omission of the letter "e," seemed silly to me. However, Levin Becker's book was so witty and well written that I am now inspired to try reading at least one Oulipian novel. Becker had memorable depictions of most (perhaps all) of the members of the Oulipo - from founders Queneau and Le Lionnais to Georges Perec (who wrote LA DISPARATION - a novel that completely omitted the letter "e" and followed this with LES REVENENTES that only used the "e" vowel) and every other member of this unusual literary group. I had never heard of the Oulipo and while I am still uncertain as to whether a novel written using various constraints could be as compelling as one just freely written based on one's experiences, I am intrigued enough to read a book written by an Oulipian and explore this group further.
This unusual difficult topic is well handled by Mr. Levin, written knowledgeably, first-handedly, but with great accessibility and humor. I would not have read about the Oulipo had it not been written in this manner but I gained a lot and with enjoyment. .
Really enjoyed this book - had a great overview of group's history and what they do. In addition, many starting off points for one to do their own research and/or Oulipo-type acrobatics.
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