In 1979, Georges Perec (1936-1982) wrote a brief entertainment called "The Winter Journey" for a publisher's catalogue. It quickly became his most frequently reprinted short story. Set on the eve of World War II, it recounts the discovery of a great literary masterpiece that conceals a scandalous secret at the heart of the whole of modern French literature. Every aspect of literary history will have to be rewritten. However, the War intervenes, and the work is lost forever.
The present volume, a kind of "hyper-novel," includes and then extends this brief parable, which turns out to be so resonant with possibilities. Georges Perec was perhaps the most celebrated member of the Oulipo group of writers in France, and over the years members of the group have written 20 sequels to this tale, between 1992 and January of this year. The result is a novel of digressions, gradual elaboration and bizarre forays into the totally unexpected. Winter Journeys has become one of the most extended and congenial literary experiments of recent times; it includes meditations on the literary tastes of worms, book-burning in the Nazi period, the delights of plagiarism and the twisted rationality of bibliophilia.
First published as a limited paperback edition in 2001, this new volume is twice the length of its predecessor. Please note that pages 136-140 are intentionally printed upside down, as part of the narrative on those pages (François Caradec's "The Worm's Journey," which describes a bookworm's path through a book).