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Oulipo Laboratory / Queneau, Raymond ; Calvino, Italio ; Fournel, Paul ; Jouet, Jacques ; Berge, Claude ; Harry Mathews, translator ; Ian White, translator ; Perec G ; Pastior O ; Metail M ; Duchamp M ; Arnaud N., 1995

Identifier: CC-29411-30776

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Scope and Contents

Oulipo is an acronym for the French word meaning "Workshop for Potential Literature." The group was formed in 1960 by Raymond Queneau, a celebrated novelist and poet who was not an inconsequential amateur mathematician and his friend, Francois Le Lionnais, a chessmaster who shared his friend's love for mathematics. Queneau had been struggling with a literary task of immense complexity, his 100 trillion poems and asked Le Lionnais for practical assistance.When they discusses this problem, their conversations turned to the possibility of incorporating mathematical structures into the process of literary creation. Queneau had ready been doing this in his novels, but no one noticed until he mentioned it. Queneau and Le Lionnais soon widened their investigations beyond mathematics to include all forms of artificial restriction in literature. As an Oulipean term, restriction means a constraining method or system or rule that can be precisely defined. All literature is limited by the structure of the language in which itis composed; for the limitations are inherent in the basic conventions of writing. Artificial restrictions, however, are adhered to voluntarily and are to some extent arbitrary: those for instance of the classical sonnet, with its fixed number of lines, meter and rhyme scheme. The members of Oulipo are interested in such restrictions because they see in them not limitation but potentiality, an apparent paradox that tends to disappear when such methods are actually put into practice: restriction them becomes the mother of literary invention. Among members of the group were Noel Arnaud, Italo Calvino, Marcel Duchamp, Harry Mathews, Michele Metail, Oskar Pastior, Georges Perec, and Raymond Queneau. The most famous Oulipean work to date was Georges Perec, "La Disparition," a book also held by the Sackner Archive.This book is composed of six issues of Bibliotheque Oulipienne, a series of booklets published for the membership, from 16-48 pages, and 150-200 copies. From 1974-1995, 74 issues appeared. -- Source of annotation: Marvin or Ruth Sackner.


  • Creation: 1995



0 See container summary (1 soft cover book (168 pages)) ; 18.9 x 16.8 x 1 cm

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Physical Location

shelf alphabeti

Custodial History

The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, on loan from Ruth and Marvin A. Sackner and the Sackner Family Partnership.


Published: London, England : Atlas Press. Nationality of creator: French and American. General: Added by: RED; updated by: MARVIN.

Repository Details

Part of the The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry Repository

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