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Harry Mathews

(b. 1930)


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(1930– ),

is the only American member of OuLiPo, the French experimental literary movement founded in 1960. His early fictions, such as The Conversions (1962) and Tlooth (1966), offer a compendium of eccentric narratives and sophisticated wordplay. His later novels, Cigarettes (1987) and The Journalist (1994), are just as inventive and bewildering, but explore more recognizable American contexts. In these works Mathews disguises the formal constraints underlying his plots and characters. He has also written a number of shorter, more obviously experimental texts such as ‘Their Words, For You’ (1977), which consists wholly of scrambled proverbs. Mathews's poetry (collected in A Mid‐Season Sky, 1992) again employs rigid conventions as a means of embodying the surrealism of everyday life.

Subjects: Literature.


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