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A Void Hardcover – January, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill; First Edition edition (January 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002711192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002711197
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

OuLiPians (members of Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle) once defined themselves as rats who must build the labyrinth from which they propose to escape. Perec's labyrinth in La Disparition was a lipogram omitting the letter "e." Lipograms are an old device, but what makes Perec's effort unique is the length and the fact that, despite its experimental nature, this works as a fun book, a sort of spoof on detective fiction. When the troubled Anton Vowl mysteriously disappears, his friends, led by Amaury Conson, try to find clues. Gathered at the great house of Azincourt, they uncover forbidden passions, an ancient curse, unsuspected relationships and an unending supply of dead bodies. Amaury's search for Anton is a premise: the reader's real conundrum is untangling the logogriph of A Void's multiple hints and references. Some are numerical/alphabetical (there is no chapter five out of 26); some require knowledge of French and other literature (one lipogram without "a"s or "e"s is by fellow OuLiPian Raymond Queneau); others are simply amusing ("An amorphous mass of books and authors bombards his brain... La Disparition? Or Adair's translation of it?") In A Void, Adair has proved himself an adept translator, one fully as comfortable with Perec's sense of absurd fun as with his language.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A true tour de force: a full-length novel containing not a single 'E'. An entertaining post-modern detective story...dazzling... the translator's dazzling recreation conveys the author's near magical cleverness while preserving an underlying seriousness that makes this book much more than a curiosity" New Yorker "Adair's translation is an astounding Anglicisation of Francophonic mania, a daunting triumph of will pushing its way through imposing roadblocks to a magical country, an absurdist nirvana, of humour, pathos and loss" Time --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This translator was a Mr. Adair.
Greg
Indeed it's a remarkable hoot, at times quite funny, and throughout consistently ingenious and clever.
pnotley@hotmail.com
Sadly, I found it completely unreadable.
Tim

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Greg on September 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Six plus six plus four months ago, I bought a book: A Void. Originally, an author (G. P*r*c) first thought of A Void (or La Disparition) in 1967. In 1994, it was brought out from a country at a north Atlantic location in which Français is usually a normal way of articulating in writing and out loud and into a form of communication which most inhabitants of this country (US of A) know. This translator was a Mr. Adair. This book is a highly fantastic book. A linguistic madman who thought it up was choosing to put A Void on papyrus without a symbol in a form of communication, this missing fifth symbol. This author, or madman, was brilliant and did it without any faults, as did translator Adair. Why? I don't know. Author was crazy as a fox is crazy.
In this book, this Void, I found no lack of things for stimulation of my mind. In fact, Void is not a void at all. Pagination # 104:
`Twas upon a midnight tristful, I sat poring, wan and wistful
Through many a quant and curious listful of my consorts slain.
"Aha!" you shout out (not vocalizing too loudly, I wish), "that's a translation of an 18-stanza rhyming story by--"
But I cannot put to papyrus what you shout. I can, though, say that A Void lists author of rhyming as "Arthur Gordon Pym," thus naming a man from a work that this actual author did not finish. (Two or 3 of a group would say this man was too full of phobia at his own construction, à la an individual of physics, biology, and so on, in Mary's horror story about a monstrous guy known as Frank in a common-drinking-glass [I ask your pardon for this bad pun].
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Chalmers (raze@zip.com.au) on March 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
Perec lost his mother in the Holocaust. A Void is precisely about the difficulty of speaking in the absence of the most necessary thing. Not merely an intellectual tour de force -- although certainly that -- but one of the most subtle things ever written on grief.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Won't try to keep up the non-e business here :) I have no idea why anyone finds this book tedious. It has a killer, loopy, murder mystery plot, but also manages to be a deeply felt meditation on absence and the way absences constitute our lives. Lots in common with Derrida, etc. The translation is a work of genius/insanity. I can't imagine a better job being done.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1997
Format: Paperback
In words that twist within a mighty bind, a dark void winds away to worlds known but not any I can show. In this book a constant hum runs just out of mind's ability to grasp. Although many draw nigh, no pilgrim grabs it's ring of brass. Will you?

A quandry; a missing part runs far within this book but is not shown. All talk, but say naught of this void. Oh longing, may this book fulfill. It has not any of a mainstay in our world. Try it on your own, The pain is worth it, so says I who has been through this hurt upon my own. It is truly amazing.

NOTE: Not to be included in this review!! This book is a murder mystery written entirely without the letter "e" (as is this feeble review). The translator is a true genius as much as the author. His rendering of Poe's "Raven" is by itself a literary achievement of significant note, not to mention the rest of the book. Although the language is necessarily tortured and convoluted, the story flows along brilliantly. Just as a character begins to get close to uncovering the reality of the missing letter, he is done away with. For those with the stamina, a truly worthwhile read
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A Void by Georges Perec, is a book with a clever mystery aura surrounding it. This book centers around the disappearance of Anton Vowl, characterized as a insomniac with a love of writing. The story unfolds with Vowl suffering from insomnia, and sending postcards to his friends, which are interpreted as suicide letters. Amaury Conson is the first friend of Anton to begin to question his friend's sudden death. When he searches Vowl's now deserted apartment, he finds no trace of Vowl, nor any violence occurring in the area. All of Vowl's possessions are still present, including his car. Amaury suspects an abduction, so the search begins. Ottavio Ottaviani, a Corsican detective, joins the hunt, along with Aloysius Swan, his boss. Olivia Mavrokhordatos, who had an affair with Vowl at one point, also receives a postcard, and her clues alluding to a "zoo" takes her to the Paris Zoo, where she teams up with Amaury Conson. Hassan Ibn Abbou is a Moroccan "solicitor" with links to Vowl. But before he can spill any secrets he might be concealing, Abbou is stabbed in the back by a poisoned poniard. When the entire group, except for Ottavio and Swan, meet at Olivia's father-in-law's house, the mystery begins unravel. Olivia's father-in-law, Augustus, is killed mysteriously, and Squaw, their dedicated Iroquois servant, begins to piece together information, with the help of Anton's friends. Characters continue to die, and in almost Agatha Christie-like terror, the friends hope for some clue to lead them to the guilty.
George Perec(1936-1982), who wrote this book without the letter E in it, was a truly bizarre individual. He loved wordplay and parody, and was a expert on the game of GO. Perec loved to write things that were almost incredibly unique.
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