The Laws of W: Georges Perec, Utopia and Memory

Luigi Marfè


How could the story of an imaginary society based on sport laws be an allegory of the concentration camp? What made the drawings of this improbable utopia, sketched in some forgotten days of youth, the objets trouvés for the reworking of the trauma of an orphan and the history of the Shoah? Perhaps the best approach to W ou le souvenir d’enfance (1975) by Georges Perec is to consider it a parable of the law. The book faces the various meanings of this concept: law of society, contrainte of writing, rule of memory. The essay intends to outline how these meta-textual correlations provided Perec with a way to surround an absence with words. W focuses on the vain claim of writing personal experience, but also on the allusive relationship that nevertheless brings together the written and the unwritten world. While Perec’s search seems to clash with the irresolvable trauma of his childhood, a bizarre youthhood fantasy, like a mirror, reveals to the reader unexpected glimpses of the past.


Georges Perec; Utopia; Law; Dystopian Fiction; Shoah

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