on January 13, 2000
Besides the story itself, which is a circuituos tale of a missing person (that is a very simple explanation), this book is incredible because the author did not use the letter "e" in the whole text. As you can imagine, this is difficult (yes this is a full novel) but what increases the difficulty logarithmically is that the it was originally written in French, and then translated. Therefore, as the word "the" is not present in the English edition, the French addition could use "La" (the French feminine of the) exclusively. Hence, in the translation I have, the title is "A Void" instead of "La Disparition" Here at Amazon, I notice the edition they have in titled simply "Disparition". Perec also has a style that I enjoy. His use of several alternatives in the ideas that the main character, Anton Vowl, conveys to the reader is entertaining. In these sentences, which include "or" several times, he also uses alliteration, rythm, and nonsense (not really nonsense, but I cant think of a better single word; more like a manner a speaker would not normally use which is necessary so that the author can "avoid" the lettter "e") make the text fun. One of my favorite passages is a letter from some source (I can't remember that well, sort of like a ransom note, but not) in which besides the letter "e", another vowel is omitted (I think it was "i") One character immediatly notices that this second vowel has been left out, but none notice the missing "e" as if it just does not exist. M. Perec has a lot of fun with his concept. I read in one smalll biographic note that his goal was to write one book in each genre. He seems to be a very interesting character himself and I have read a couple of his other books. This, so far, is his best.
on September 4, 1998
Coming back to books written without e's (I'm sure writing them is not something everyone can do with ease), Ernest Vincent Wright's 1939 novel Gadsby is written without the second vowel. One of the most well-known e-less works is Georges Perec's lipogrammatic French novel, La Disparition. Its plot is full of wordplay, puzzles, and other word-fun. For example, a character is missing eggs, or is unable to remember his name because it needs e in the spelling. There is a (almost) pangram, a construction using all the letters from the alphabet too. Since e is forbidden, the pangram has the whole alphabet except the e. Though it may be hard to believe considering the restriction under which it is written, the novel is said to be quite engrossing. Apparently many reviewers were not even aware that a special constraint was used in writing it. After writing the novel, Perec faced a protest from the a, i, o and y keys on his keyboard that they had to do all the work and e was leading an e'sy life. So Perec had no choice but to write a short work called Les Revenentes, where the only vowel used is e. A writing composed using only one of the vowels is called a univocalic.