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The Wonder of Whiffling

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A Void (300-page novel that never once employs the letter E) by Georges Perec, Gilbert Adair
5 Stars

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Unusual, Obscure & Preposterous Words by Josefa Heifetz
4.5 Stars


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Lipograms «   1   2   3   4   5   »

Lipograms are poetry or prose written (or rewritten) to omit one or more letters of the alphabet. Among the earliest lipograms known was the 24-book epic Odyssey by the Greco-Egyptian poet Tryphiodorus. The first book omitted alpha, the second, beta, and so forth. Félix de Lope de Vega Carpio (1562-1635), recognized as Spain’s first great dramatist and probably history’s most prolific writer of any genre, composed five lipogrammatic novels with each omitting a vowel: A, E, I, O, and U.

More recently Ernest Vincent Wright wrote the 50,000-word novel Gadsby in 1939 without the letter E. An excerpt: “If youth, throughout all history, had a champion to stand up for it; to show a doubting world that a child can think; and, possibly, do it practically; you wouldn’t constantly run across folks today who claim that ‘a child don’t know anything.’ ”

“Soup” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

Here's the traditional poem “Monday’s Child” rewritten leaving out various letters.

Original version:

Monday’s child is fair of face.
Tuesday’s child is full of grace.
Wednesday’s child is full of woe.
Thursday’s child has far to go.
Friday’s child is loving and forgiving.
Saturday’s child works hard for a living.
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

1. No Ls, Bs or Fs:

Monday’s heir has a handsome pate.
Tuesday’s heir does commiserate.
Wednesday’s heir has tears to shed.
Thursday’s heir sees roads ahead.
The next day’s heir is caring and winsome.
Saturday’s heir works hard at his income.
And the heir that arrives on the Day with the Sun
Is a radiant and happy and joyous one.

2. No Es or Vs (the latter to avoid having to leave lines 5 and 6 unchanged from the original):

Monday’s child is fair of skin.
Day Two’s child shrugs off all sin.
Following both, this child is sad.
Thursday’s child’s a trail-blazing lad.
Friday’s child sports a kindly disposition.
For Saturday’s child, salary’s his mission.
And Sunday’s child, on Sabbath born,
Is bonny and mild — not a whit forlorn.

3. Using only the letters that occur in the names of the days of the week: A, D, E, F, H, I, M, N, O, R, S, T, U, W and Y. This eliminates 11 letters: B, C, G, J, K, L, P, Q, V, X and Z.

Monday’s tot is fair of mien.
Tuesday’s tot’s deft deeds are seen.
Wednesday’s tot’s a woesome one.
Thursday’s tot has far to run.
Friday’s tot’s warm ways we admire.
Saturday’s tot has irons in the fire.
And tots that Sunday ushers our way
Are sweet and rosy and radiant, they say.

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Next: Sing a Song of Sixpence
© Peter Blinn

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