Oulipo and the Second World War
Institute of Modern Languages Research
16-17 September 2016
Convenors: Dominic Glynn (IMLR), Dominique Moncond’huy (Poitiers), Philippe Roussin (CNRS-MFO) and Alain Schaffner (Paris III-Sorbonne nouvelle)
With support from ANR DIFDEPO and MFO
How is it possible to return to fiction and literature after the Second World War? It is common to address this question head on through testimonial literature, as well as in a more roundabout way via the “theatre of the absurd” or the work of Samuel Beckett, for example.
It is more rarely fielded in relation to the literary output of the Oulipo. Georges Perec’s work certainly appeared from an early stage to be marked by the camps and the Shoah, but this trait was considered specific to Perec, and in no way characteristic of the Oulipo. However, more recently, in Roubaud’s work for instance, texts (La Dernière Balle perdue, Parc Sauvage) or passages from the prose memorial endeavour started with the ‘Great fire of London’, have brought into focus how, coming from a family with strong ties to the Resistance, he may have been marked by the war, and in particular by the episode of the Liberation during which the camp survivors returned – including, of course, François Le Lionnais. As for Jean Lescure and Noël Arnaud, their fight against the occupier, first in the press and later on the battlefield, is well-known.
In light of these findings concerning first and second generation Oulipians, this conference invites reflections on the connections between the literary production of the Oulipo and the Second World War. If Surrealism can be said to come out of the First World War to a certain extent, is it possible to say that the Oulipo “responds to” and in what way, after a time lapse, to the Second? More generally, how might the memorial space of war be reconquered by literary invention? We welcome general reflections on this question as well as analyses of singular texts that engage with this issue.
Papers may be given in French or in English. Deadline: 6 June 2016.