Method of non-violent dissent practiced during the Algerian War by French writer Jacques Roubaud, who whimsically styles himself its inventor.

As a mathematician, Roubaud had served first in 1961 on a special team conscripted to study winds and weather forecasts to judge if conditions were amenable to stage France's first nuclear test explosion. During his second tour of duty, however, he'd evidently had enough. He explains, in an interview with BOMB Magazine:

I really wanted to get back to Paris. So I decided to go on a hunger strike, but privately, so no one should know. After a while not eating, I swooned during a drill, so they sent me to the hospital, where they couldn’t find anything wrong. I was sent back, and I swooned again. This time they decided I was mad, so they sent me to a hospital in Algiers. There a doctor thought that I’d better go back to Paris, where I was referred to a very famous doctor—Dr. Lacan! I was released thanks to him— a narrow escape! ... I am the inventor of the "clandestine hunger strike," my very first constraint.1

In the last line, Roubaud is referring to the constrained writing techniques that guide the work of Oulipo authors like himself.


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.