Things: A Story of the Sixties  

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"The means are part of the truth, as well as the result. The search for truth must itself be true; true research is truth spread out before us, the scattered members of which are reunited in the result."--Marx cited in Things: A Story of the Sixties (1965) by Georges Perec

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Things (fr. Les Choses) is a novel by Georges Perec. It received the Prix Renaudot in 1965.

It recounts the life of a young couple - both pollsters - in the 1960s. At the end of the book, they depart to live in Tunisia.

The characters in the novel do not hold as much textual importance as the the things (les choses) meticulously described throughout. Perec's use of the conditional tense plunges the reader into the dreams of the characters in the novel (consider, for example, the first line: "L'œil, d'abord, glisserait sur la moquette grise d'un long corridor, haut et étroit" [The eye, at first, would have glided over the grey carpet of a long hallway, tall and narrow]). The characters themselves are only introduced in the third chapter; the principle place being reserved for les choses, which are omnipresent in this novel.

This novel also explores "happiness" in a consumer society and is said to be a literary reflection of Barthes's Mythologies.


In the french:

"Jérôme et Sylvie sont un couple de classe moyenne vivant à Paris. Ils sont tous deux psychosociologues, c'est-à-dire qu'ils sont chargés de mener des enquêtes sur des produits auprès de la population. Ils ne s'intéressent pas à leur métier et rêvent d'une vie grandiose, pleine de richesse et de belles choses. Mais leurs salaires ne leur permettent pas de faire des folies et dès qu'ils ont le moindre argent, ils le dépensent en achat de vêtements anglais très chers..."

English translation of the above:

"Jérôme and Sylvie are a middle class couple living in Paris. They are both psychosociologists, which is to say that they are responsible for conducting public surveys concerning various products . They are not interested in their profession and dream of a grandiose life, full of riches and beautiful things. But their salaries do not permit them to indulge their whims, and as soon as they have any money at all, they use it to purchase very expensive English clothes..."

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