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Consequences

Christopher Reid

15 May 1980
Renga 
by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... of course, the abolition of the artist as ‘property-owner’ of his work, was an important part of the Surrealist campaign. The Renga composed in Paris more than ten years ago by Octavio Paz, JacquesRoubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson has recently been published here. This work, the result of five days’ collaboration in the basement of the Hôtel St Simon on the left Bank, has ...

Hound of Golden Imbeciles

John Sturrock: Homage to the Oulipo

29 April 1999
Oulipo Compendium 
edited by Harry Matthews and Alastair Brotchie.
Atlas, 336 pp., £16.99, March 1999, 0 947757 96 1
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... you had while you were doing it but rather to satisfy by the exercise of the intelligence the variously stringent demands imposed by a tight literary form. They are by nature escapologists, or, as JacquesRoubaud has it in his very graceful introduction to the Compendium (very gracefully translated by the Oulipo’s senior foreign member, Harry Mathews): ‘An Oulipian author is a rat who himself ...

Anticipatory Plagiarism

Paul Grimstad: Oulipo

6 December 2012
Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature 
by Daniel Levin Becker.
Harvard, 338 pp., £19.95, May 2012, 978 0 674 06577 2
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... of the praise involves stressing the way even the most rigidly constrained writing can unleash all sorts of unforeseen accidents and surprises. One of the most mathematically accomplished Oulipians, JacquesRoubaud, says that while constraints might be thought of as analogous to axioms, literary works undertaken in accord with such axioms generate consequences such that the axiom-theorem relation is ...

Red makes wrong

Mark Ford: Harry Mathews

20 March 2003
The Human Country: New and Collected Stories 
by Harry Mathews.
Dalkey Archive, 186 pp., £10.99, October 2002, 1 56478 321 9
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The Case of the Persevering Maltese: Collected Essays 
by Harry Mathews.
Dalkey Archive, 290 pp., £10.99, April 2003, 1 56478 288 3
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... the longest of which, by Perec, is more than 5000 letters long); and ulcérations (in French) and ‘threnodials’ (in English), which employ only the 11 most common letters of the language. As JacquesRoubaud, one of the group’s most gifted practitioners, observed in 1991: ‘An OuLiPian author is a rat who himself builds the maze from which he sets out to escape.’ Harry Mathews is the only ...

Into Thin Air

Marina Warner: Science at the Séances

3 October 2002
The Invention of Telepathy 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Oxford, 334 pp., £35, June 2002, 0 19 924962 8
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... who in the 1870s had speculated about a fourth, ‘radiant’, state of matter, lent authority to the cause of English psychic research. When Dr Richet held séances in his villa on the island of Roubaud in the South of France in the summer of 1895, he invited the eminent philosophers and scientists who, in 1882, had founded the Society for Psychical Research. They included the philosopher Frederic ...

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