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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Hayden

The Lipogram

There are a lot of writers who impress me; I couldn't even begin to name them all. Ernest Vincent Wright is one such author and I've never even read his work before; only snippets. His 1939 novel, Gadsby, was written entirely without the letter 'e.' Not only did he write an entire work without a vowel, but he chose the most common vowel in the English language to omit from his prose. I can't help but be impressed at the creativity and patience needed to achieve such a feat. Can you imagine not even being able to write the word 'the'?

In all honesty, Gadsby is low priotity as far as my reading goals. Remarkable though this enterprise may be, my ever-growing book list requires me to shift rankings constantly. There are other plots, other characters, other themes to be found in pages that interest me more. But it's certainly worth a mention even as it is, I've heard, largely an exercise in circumlocution.

Here's some of what Wright wrote about the book after he completed it:

"As I wrote along, in long-hand at first, a whole army of little E’s gathered around my desk, all eagerly expecting to be called upon. But gradually as they saw me writing on and on, without even noticing them, they grew uneasy; and, with excited whisperings amongst themselves, began hopping up and riding on my pen, looking down constantly for a chance to drop off into some word; for all the world like seabirds perched, watching for a passing fish! But when they saw that I had covered 138 pages of typewriter size paper, they slid onto the floor, walking sadly away, arm in arm..."

I can't even imagine trying to write this blog post without a certain letter, let alone a whole book. Well done.

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