- Series: Atlas Archive
- Paperback: 335 pages
- Publisher: Atlas Press (November 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0947757961
- ISBN-13: 978-0947757960
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 8.3 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Oulipo Compendium (Atlas Archive)
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Oulipo is a contraction of Ouvroir de Littérature potentielle, which roughly translates as `workshop of potential literature'.
Oulipo is a group of French speaking mathematicians and writers who seek to create works using constrained writing techniques. One of its founders, Raymond Queneau is the author of Exercises in Style.
The book is a compendium of different techniques and approaches which are described, often with illuminating examples. It gives a fascinating glimpse into a host of different ways of thinking and looking at the world.
One of the most fascinating consequences of constraints is that, far from reducing ideas and opportunities, the introduction of constraints serves as the stimulus to new ideas.
Just take a look at the spam arriving with your email to see the creative lengths that spammers will go to, to get past anti-spam software. Or the lengths that car owners in the UK will go to, to construct words from the very limited patterns of letters and digits allowed on a number plate
The book opens with Queneau's `Hundred thousand million poems' Ten pages each of 14 strips of text, that can be combined to create this immense number of different poems. From there onwards the book is a treasure trove of ideas to change the way you see.
My personal favourite is `The Skinhead Hamlet' by Richard Curtis which uses the technique of substituting a vocabulary drawn from a radically different environment, in this case `skinheads', and applying it to Shakespeare's play. The language is inevitably strong, but it had me crying with laughter.
This is a book that will enliven parts of your brain that others simply cannot reach.
Reading this book was very like being allowed into the fold of the Ultra Cool Kids, finding them to be an evolved form of human, and being welcomed just the same. The history, writing, and exercises held in this volume should be read by everyone thinking of exploring experimental writing. If you are bored with the status quo--and how could you not be?--then this book is for you.
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(b) A fountain of ideas when your jammed
(c) Literary theory written sideways
(d) A book you should pick up
(e) All of the above