The Rise of Daily Life in French Lit

The new Words Without Borders blog has shot out of the box with their ongoing Perec coverage. The latest piece is an excellent, lengthy interview between Martin Riker of the Dalkey Archive Press and Perec-scholar Warren Motte.

Here’s a little taste:

MR: This is something else I wanted to ask you about, the role of daily life in recent French fiction, and the role Perec played in creating this literary climate. I’m particularly interested in how often in recent French fiction this interest overlaps with a sense of playfulness–the ludic–and whether that’s an inevitable overlap.

WM: It seems to me that in the kinds of things that you and I read there’s a lot of that overlap, and that’s probably why we read it. But that kind of overlap is generally thought of as being taboo, right? On the one hand you have “play” and on the other hand you have “seriousness.” You have the “play sphere” as Johann Huizinga would put it, and on the other hand you have “work.” And that distinction, which you can trace from Plato onward, that distinction between the world of imagination and the so-called real world is not really questioned until you come to the 1960s, or not questioned profoundly and in a performative way, until you get people like Jacques Ehrmann saying Well, you know, play is basically articulation. And then you get Jacques Derrida coming along and talking about “free play,” and so forth. So to me, the highest expression of that notion of the articulation of play and the quotidian is the idea that daily life can be played . . .

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