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Exercises in Style Hardcover – 1 Dec 1958

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Gaberbocchus Press; First U. K. Edition. Hardback. Dust Jacket. edition (Dec. 1958)
  • ISBN-10: 0852470363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852470367
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,111,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Okay, so that's a bit over the top. But these stories (one story, told in many different ways, actually) make me smile, make me think about language, syntax, construction and style, and inspire me to have a go myself.
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!
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Format: Paperback
Queneau was, among many other things, a brilliant gamester. In this book he takes the most banal of stories and tells it 99 times in 99 different styles. It is a weird book, whose charm grows as you continue. Once you get to the 5th or 6th version of this inane tale, you begin to laugh and gasp and don't stop until the end. Like all good jokes, it is more than a joke. If you delight in language, read this book. If you do not delight in launguage, this book will teach you to. I have read the original French version, and Barbara Wright has stayed true to it in this wonderful translation. Don't miss this gem!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating book. It presents a very simple story, an encounter on a crowded tube train with a brief meeting later the same afternoon. Nothing special in that you may think. What is unique about this book is not the story, but the way in which it is presented, or ways in which it is presented to be more accurate, for the same story is presented 99 times.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great!! (superlative-justified) It opens with a passage about an altercation between two men on a French train, and is repeated throughout written in different styles of prose. A handy visual example/prompt/inspiration for writers and literary fans.
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Format: Paperback
Sorry to break with the consensus on this supposed masterpiece, but I'm afraid that I found it a great big malodorous heap of merde. I could say that in 98 other ways but I'd surely bore the pants off you.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you have ever struggled with a piece of writing you will appreciate this little book which cleverly shows many different ways of presenting the same short account. The one with an Italianate theme is hilarious.Even more amazing when you consider that it has been translated from the French original
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Format: Paperback
Many! any reader of this book will testify so! Playfull, but on certain occasions tirring by its repetitiveness. Enlightning and imaginative, as it illustrates the understanding of one story in many ways, through many prismas, as different characters would describe. A trip I would definitely suggest to everyone.
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Format: Paperback
Queneau keeps you laughing so that you almost fail to notice him slipping in a remarkable lesson about language, writing, and creativity. This book forever changed the way I teach my college writing course-and changed me as a writer.
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