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La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams

Written by Georges Perec | Translated by Daniel Levin Becker | February 2013
La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams
Melville House | February 2013

The beguiling, never-before-translated dream diary of Georges Perec …

In La Boutique Obscure Perec once again revolutionized literary form, creating the world’s first “nocturnal autobiography.” From 1968 until 1972 — the period when he wrote his most well-known works — the beloved French stylist recorded his dreams. But as you might expect, his approach was far from orthodox.

Avoiding the hazy psychoanalysis of most dream journals, he challenged himself to translate his visions and subconscious churnings directly into prose. In laying down the nonsensical leaps of the imagination, he finds new ways 
to express the texture and ambiguity of dreams — those qualities that prove 
so elusive.

Beyond capturing a universal experience for the first time and being a fine document of literary invention, La Boutique Obscure contains the seeds of some of Perec’s most famous books. It is also an intimate portrait of one of the great innovators of modern literature.


Reviews

“To read Georges Perec one must be ready to abandon oneself to a spirit of play. His books are studded with intellectual traps, allusions and secret systems, and . . . they are prodigiously entertaining.” — Paul Auster

“One of the most singular literary personalities in the world, a writer who resembled absolutely no one else.” — Italo Calvino

”These may have been real dreams, but they feel like more….This is the reader’s reward: watching Perec’s mind weaving metaphor and story even while asleep.” - Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“If you let it, the bundled text of dreams provides insight into [Perec's] most influential work … Daniel Levin Becker rises and meets the challenge of honoring Perec’s intuition.” - Library Journal (editor’s pick)

La Boutique Obscure … is a work of considerable breadth and variety, and much of it is good fun, too. Any new bit of Pereciana is welcome, and fans will certainly appreciate and enjoy La Boutique Obscure.” - The Complete Review


Article originally published by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States on frenchculture.org.

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