Daniel Levin Becker

Writing from Oulipo


December’s Words Without Borders is an Oulipian special. Daniel Levin Becker introduces the issue:

The Oulipo — ouvroir de littérature potentielle, or workshop for potential literature, a Paris-based literary collective dedicated to exploring how literature might arise from structures, rules, and constraints borrowed from linguistics or mathematics or parlor games — presents an uncommonly acute challenge to that expectation. To write an Oulipian text is both to draw a picture and to solve a puzzle, and more often than not these two missions blur together to the point where it becomes impossible to discern where the language ends and the meaning, such as it is, begins.