Georges Perec : "I knew Twenty years after by heart" Vous êtes ici : Accueil > English > Dumas's life > Dumas as described...
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Georges Perec (1936-1982), a writer famous for his utterly original works, and particularly his novel La Vie, mode d'emploi, explains, in the partly autobiographical novel W ou le souvenir d'enfance, how important for him, as a young boy, was the reading of Twenty years after.

The first reading I remember happened at that time. Lying face down on my bed, I would devour the books Cousin Henri would give me to read. (...) The third book was Vingt ans après, whose memory excessively overdoes the impression it made upon me, maybe because it is the only one of those three books that I have read again and that I still read again today : it seems to me that I knew this book by heart and that I took so many details in from it that rereading it only meant checking that they were still there : Mazarin's table's vermeil corners, the letter from Porthos that had remained for fifteen years in the pocket of one of d'Artagnan's old jerkins, Aramis's tetragonia in his convent, Grimaud's toolbag thanks to which they had found that the barrels were not full of beer but of gunpowder, the incense paper that d'Artagnan burns in his horse's ear, the way Porthos, whose wrists are still strong (the size of a mutton chop, if I remember well), changes fire tongs into corkscrews, the picture book Louis XIV is looking at when d'Artagnan comes and takes him away from Paris, Planchet refugee at d'Artagnan's landlady's place, speaking Flemish to make believe that he is her brother, the wood-carrying countryman telling in perfect French to d'Artagnan how to get to the Castle La Fère, Mordaunt's inflexible hatred, asking Cromwell to take the excutioner's place when the latter has been rapted by the musketeers, and a hundred more episodes, full pieces of the story or mere turns of phrases, for which I feel not only as if I had always known them, but moreover, to a certain extent, that I used them as a story : source of inexhaustible memories, of turning over and over, of one certainty : the words were at their right place, the books told stories ; it was possible to follow ; it was possible to read again, and, reading again, to find again the first impression experienced, magnified through the certainty that it could be found again : this pleasure never dried up : I don't read much, but I endlessly read again, Flaubert and Jules Verne, Roussel and Kafka, Leiris and Queneau ; I read again the books I love, and I love the books I read again, and each time with the same delight, wether I read again twenty pages, three chapters or the whole book : the delight of complicity, of connivance, and even more, the delight of some kinship found again at last.

Georges Perec
W ou le souvenir d'enfance
Denöel
1975
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