Georges Perec - Does He Denounce Consumer Society in 'Les Choses'

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By edd22
Words 2954
Pages 12
Perec nous dit, “je ne suis pas un moraliste, je suis un écrivain. Cela dit mon projet de départ, est un projet réaliste, donc un projet moral. » Dans quelle mesure peut-on dire que Les Choses constitue une condamnation morale de la société de consommation?
For Georges Perec, this question warrants the response – ‘People who think I have denounced consumer society have understood absolutely nothing about my book’ (Bellos: 1965). It is not as easy however for the everyday reader to fully comprehend the true purpose behind Les Choses. At a glance, one might define the book as a sociological approach in criticising the impact consumerism has had on society. Much to Perec’s disappointment, this consensus became apparent when he won the Renaudot prize for Les Choses in 1965, and many considered it to be a “brilliant exposition of sociological theories…rather than a literary work” (Sheringham 2006: 251). It is the ambiguous nature of Perec’s work in accord with the heavy use of rhetoric along with other literary weapons that is central to understanding the genius behind the man. Once one analyses the subtlety of Les Choses it quickly becomes apparent that the intention is to pose more questions than give straightforward answers. In this essay I will take each aspect of these various literary techniques into account, before formulating a conclusion on the extent to which Perec morally condemns a 1960’s French society seemingly obsessed with consumption.
I start with a brief outline of the story in Les Choses. The book centres on the journey through life of the two main characters Jérôme and Sylvie, and their futile pursuit of happiness in a rapidly modernising society. Initially, they are presented by Perec as disillusioned students who comply with society’s new role of the ‘jeune cadre’ (middle manager). They apply to roles in the increasingly popular field of marketing…...

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