A Void. A work by Georges Perec which follows lipogrammatic constraints; meaning, there’s no letter ‘e’ in the whole book. (It was translated that way into English, as well.)
Last week it dawned on me how clever the title alone is. A void as in an emptiness, a gap, a hole where the letter ‘e’ should be. Or, avoid as in completely leave it alone.
If the first two words of such a work can be so fraught with meaning, what does that bode for my comprehension of the rest of the work? I’m reading it with my computer’s browser open to Google, let me tell you.
How interesting to find this quote then, indicating that the absence of the most commonly used letter in the alphabet is tied to the loss of Perec’s parents:
“The absence of a sign is always the sign of an absence, and the absence of the E in A Void announces a broader, cannily coded discourse on loss, catastrophe, and mourning. Perec cannot say the words père [“father”], mère [“mother”], parents [“parents”], famille [“family”] in his novel, nor can he write the name Georges Perec. In short, each “void” in the novel is abundantly furnished with meaning, and each points toward the existential void that Perec grappled with throughout his youth and early adulthood. A strange and compelling parable of survival becomes apparent in the novel, too, if one is willing to reflect on the struggles of a Holocaust orphan trying to make sense out of absence, and those of a young writer who has chosen to do without the letter that is the beginning and end of écriture [“writing”].” ~Warren Motte
For one who is constantly interested in the theme of loss, I’m going to try my best with this novel. I may need a little help, Richard, along the way.