Tue
Jan 27 2009 8:37am

Cette Lettre Prend le Vengence

Remember G. Perec? The expert French geek penned The Exeter Text (Les Revenentes). Here, he herds E’s, eschews else. Perec’s precedent prevented them. 

When we see the text, we fret, feel feeble. “Hells Bells!” we yell. We knew he’d be clever, yet never expected the extreme keenness. E, ever E! Jeez! (Well, he keeps Y, except when Y resembles the rejected letters.)  Speechless, we enter the next sentence. He chews helpless verbs, then excretes perfect press. 

The references bleed senses: we feel, see, smell scents, etc. We see jewel theft, feel Berber rebels’ hempen tents, smell the fresh peppered Greek cheeses. Essene Jews serve Seder egg entrees. Even-keel Zen sect temple reverends reject need, keep stern precepts yet, when tempted, brew green kettle dregs.

Perec’s sex-centered (he’s French, remember?). He sees fevered sex here, there, wherever. Flesh flexes, genders bend. Perverse men leer, members lengthened, where lewd, reckless teens kneel. These creeps screw, screech, sneer. The men, seed skeeted, scepters messed, sleep. The wenches refresh themselves, then schlep elsewhere. 

Dérèglement

Perec’s verb-reverent mettle gets tested. He greets the entente, feels deep glee when he delves. He detests the depleted letters. Nevertheless, the text rebels. These elements fence: Perec et les règles. When he relents, the melee ends. See, Perec’s preferred verse-preen swerves here. He hedges. Then events get skewed…here, there, the fervent excess recedes when Perec neglects the pledge; he lets speech veer. ’N the end, Perec’s left w/ werds mess-spelled, ’pstrephes ever’where.

Perec’s recklessness begs the decree: when gentle, the verb-test perseveres, yet the severe letter-pretzel renders senseless sentences. 

The end? Perec’s genre felled, self-rejected. The jest? The pretense reversed gets perfect revenge. 

5 comments
Bridget McGovern
1. BMcGovern
Hell's Bells, 'ndeed, Hennenger. Very clever...Vive Perec, the French, the letter E & thee!
Koc'h
2. Koc'h
Sorry, the title is meaningless in French.. What about "Cette lettre se venge"? Or "Cette lettre s'est vengée" (more E's)?
Jason Henninger
3. jasonhenninger
@ 2

Those are good! I was trying for something along the lines of "this letter gets revenge," but it's been 20 years since I took French.
Koc'h
5. Stephen Frug
Old thread, but if anyone reads it, check out Perec's fellow-Oulipan Ian Monk's homage to Perec's letterless texts here (it's the e entry, which itself refers to the a one):

http://www.partal.com/vademecum/eng/llibres/1.html

SF

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