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Books without the letter ‘e’

Q From Gord Forsythe: I’m sure I have seen a short story (maybe it was very short) that was written without the use of the letter e. Have you ever come across such an item?

A There are several examples of works written without using some letter of the alphabet. Usually e is left out, perhaps because that’s one of the most frequently found and so presents the greatest challenge (for example, you can’t use such common words as the, use or are). Some of these works are quite long. Examples are Gadsby, a 50,000-word novel published by Ernest Vincent Wright in 1939, and George Perec’s French-language novel La Disparition of 1969, which was translated into English in 1995 as A Void. Such works are called lipograms, from the Greek lipogrammatos, “missing a letter”. And James Thurber once wrote a story about pirates who banned the use of “o” on an island, The Wonderful O, which is about the problem of leaving out a letter rather than an example of the type.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 28 Nov. 1998

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Last modified: 28 November 1998.