Writing a book while deliberately avoiding a specific letter or set of letters can limit the writer’s options for expressing ideas and constructing sentences.
This can result in creative challenges and linguistic difficulties, such as finding synonyms for words that typically contain the excluded letter or avoiding common grammatical structures that rely on the omitted letter.
These types of texts are lipograms, in which one or more letters are omitted, either on purpose or as a constraint.
Although the most common letter in English is “e,” there are lipograms that have it as the constraint.
What are they? Which book does not contain a single letter “e”?
Which Book Does Not Contain a Single Letter “E”?
Two books do not contain the letter “e” in their entirety: Ernest Vincent Wright’s Gadsby and Georges Perec’s La Disparition (which was later translated by Gilbert Adair, who changed the name to A Void).
By excluding the most common letter in the English language (about 11.6%), the writers explored the limits of the English language and pushed themselves to be more creative with their vocabulary and grammar.
This constraint must have forced the two writers to think outside the box when it came to word choice and sentence structure.
The ability to convey a story even with the constraint of excluding a common letter is obviously time-demanding, requiring the writer to spend a lot of time researching words that don’t contain this letter.
Gadsby is a novel written by Ernest Vincent Wright in 1939. It is a lipogram because it does not include the letter “e.”
The writing process must have been very challenging for Wright, as it is said that he tied down the “e” key to avoid typing the letter “e.” Despite this constraint, he finished the book, ending up with a book that is over 50,000 words long.
However, even after all his effort, the first editions slipped in the letter “e” a fistful of times. It is said that the 1939 first edition is one of the editions that had the words “the” and “officers,” with the former used three times and the latter once.
The book was not a commercial success; Wright failed to find a publisher for Gadsby and ended up publishing it through a vanity publisher called Wetzel Publishing Co., but its popularity has increased over time. Gadsby has become a literary curiosity and might inspire novelists and poets to churn out another amazing lipogram.
Gadsby is considered a unique experiment in literature, and it is still discussed by people interested in literature and linguistics. It is also considered an example of “constrained writing,” a form of writing in which the author imposes some restrictions on themselves to make the writing process more challenging.
It is also interesting to note that there were critics back then who did not consider Gadsby a serious literary work but more of a playful linguistic experiment.
What’s Gadsby About?
Gadsby and “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald are two different stories. The Gadsby is a story about John Gadsby, not the tavern keeper but a middle-aged native of Branton Hills. Gadsby wanted to help stop the degradation of Branton, so he enlisted the help of the town’s youngsters. Together with the youth, Gadsby turns things around and improves living conditions, making the town a beacon of light for the neighboring towns.
Why Does Gadsby Not Contain The Letter “E”
Wright’s inspiration and motivation for writing Gadsby came when he found out that the letter “e” was the most commonly used letter in the English language.
After thinking about writing a book without the letter “e,” he sought other people’s opinions on the idea, and everyone pretty much said it was impossible without breaking the rules of grammar.
“A Void” by Gilbert Adair (translated from La Disparition by Georges Perec)
“A Void” by Gilbert Adair is a unique and thought-provoking lipogram that is sure to challenge readers in a variety of ways.
A Void is a translation of “La Disparition,” a book originally written in French by experimental author Georges Perec. It tells the story of a group of people who are searching for a missing friend, Anton Vowl. However, the twist is that the missing person’s name begins with the letter “e,” and the entire novel is written without the use of the letter “e.”
The book is a playful and imaginative work, with a lighthearted tone that belies the deeper themes it explores.
The characters in the book are memorable and well-developed, each with their own quirks and foibles. The plot is engaging, with plenty of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the end. The ending is satisfying and leaves the reader with a sense of closure, while still leaving room for interpretation.
Overall, “A Void” is a unique and thought-provoking novel that is sure to challenge readers in a variety of ways. It is a playful and imaginative work that is also a tribute to the Oulipo group and a commentary on the role of language in our lives. It is a book that rewards close reading, and it is sure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
Why La Disparition (A Void) Does Not Contain The Letter “E”
Georges Perec was inspired by Ernest Vincent Wright’s Gadsby. Perec was a member of the Oulipo group, a group of French writers and mathematicians who believed that constraints can be a powerful tool for creativity. This book is very much in line with the group’s beliefs.
Many literary works were created without certain characters. The most common type is a “lipogram,” which is a term often used to refer to writing that purposefully omits a certain letter, producing a text with a unique style and linguistic challenge.
This constraint adds an extra layer of complexity to the story as the characters struggle to communicate and express themselves without the use of a common vowel.
It also serves as a commentary on the role of language in our lives and the impact that our choices and constraints have on how we communicate.