Exercises in Style Hardcover – 1 Dec 1958
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"Witty, playful, ingenious, it manages to transcend its own
sophistication by a sort of verbal slapstick which Miss Wright translates
into Pure Groucho Marxism."
-- The Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
One of the most versatile and interesting of French twentieth
century authors, Queneau (1903-1976) was widely respected as an
intellectual, but also touched a bestseller public, and can be compared to
James Joyce, his friend, in his originality and ability to write
simultaneously on many levels. He was a legendary figure, not only in the
literary world, but as mathematician, philosopher and editor of the
Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. His translations by Barbara Wright are literary
masterpieces in themselves. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The writer uses a range of styles to explore the differences this makes to the story, and to the reader's perception of the protagonists. This book is a must for anyone who ever tried to write using different voices or in different contexts (for example, a letter has a different tone to a newspaper report, a police statement or a short story, probably).
The stunning realisation that this book is a translation from the French makes the translator seem just as remarkable as the author!
Now we may at first wonder that there are nine, let alone 99 different ways of describing such a simple tale. The magic of the book is the multiplicity of styles Queneau uses. We might imagine the story told from the different perspectives of the participants. But imagine it observed passively, or described by someone hesitatingly, or with extreme precision. Imagine it told through a sonnet, or a play, or in a tactile way, as the notes in a policeman's notebook, or focussing on sounds, through spoonerisms, or by a mathematician.
The result is that one is left thinking that there are so many more ways that even such a simple story could be told.
The effect is many-fold. Never again will I be able to see a description of anything without being aware of just how partial that description must be. It illuminates the reality of multiple perspectives from which everything can be seen.
For the writer, reader, speaker and listener it changes the way you perceive the description of everything. Opening up new opportunities and raising countless new questions.
This is a truly fascinating book, which has become a timeless classic.
It's not that I'm a Wilbur Smith reader who just stumbled on this book by accident. I've read Queneau before and was interested by the concept behind this one of his efforts. But I came away extremely disappointed. I assume that Queneau is trying to be funny but the humour is terribly dated and didn't provoke the slightest snigger out of me. Equally, I found nothing that was remotely intelligent or thought-provoking - he might have tried to provide different perspectives in the style of Rashomon, say, but all you get is just whimsical piffle. And some of the exercises are the purest gibberish:
'pl rm fo an ov us sb aw is ou ay ma ng ho nw....'
- I hope that doesn't give away the plot!
This is just experimentalism for experimentalism's sake. A complete waste of time. Pretentious garbage.
0 out of 62 deluded ninnies will find this review useful.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book is essentially one paragraph, written in various forms. It was interesting to see but after a while, it did become a little tedious to read.Published 2 months ago by Bailey1
thought provocking - shame about the story used. but ha ho. write your own.Published 19 months ago by J R Hartley
classic must-read for any creative individual; be you comic book artist, film maker, poet... it shows how much you can change the narrative with just a simple shift in perspectivePublished on 8 July 2014 by Mister Ben
entertaining. i read it with a permanent smile. the pieces are long enough to make the point and short enough not to strain the pleasure.Published on 9 April 2014 by Mr. Moshe Elias
This is a deliciously smart book that describes a simple, rather bland passage in various styles.
The fact that it is translated from the French is even more amazing, I only... Read more
A brilliant book. How can you tell a simple, everyday story in 99 different ways? I have read it in 3 different languages and I am always impressed with the translator's... Read morePublished on 7 April 2009 by Di20