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Esercizi di stile

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  4,205 ratings  ·  322 reviews
Un episodio di vita quotidiana, di sconcertante banalità, e novantanove variazioni sul tema, in cui la storia viene ridetta mettendo alla prova tutte le figure retoriche, i diversi generi letterari (dall'epico al drammatico, dal racconto gotico alla lirica giapponese), giocando con sostituzioni lessicali, frantumando la sintassi, permutando l'ordine delle lettere alfabetic ...more
Paperback, Einaudi Tascabili - Letteratura #849, 237 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Einaudi (first published 1947)
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Community Reviews

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From what point of view should I review the book? Evidently: from all possible points of view.


Needless to say, I am reading the original French edition. I can hardly believe that his delicate linguistic irony would survive translation into English. Quelle horreur!


I laughed until I wet myself. Well, I should know better than to read this kind of book in the bathroom.


If nothing else, very educational. I have already learned the names of two figures of speech I didn't prev
Glenn Russell

One very effective way I have found to squeeze the juice of wisdom from the books I read is to write a review, which forces me to formulate my ideas and opinions in precise and clear (at least that is my intent) language. However, with Raymond Queneau's Exercises in Style, we have a book that contains not only wisdom but many flavors of linguistic magic. Thus, I need to do more than simply write a review. I found the solution: I read Barbara Wright's translation aloud, recording my voice on a di
Only one book has ever “changed my life” (god, if only things were so simple that a book could change your life!) and that is Joyce’s Ulysses, and that only in terms of my ideas of dedication and rigor. It certainly didn’t unearth profound aspects of my personality that until that point were latent, it didn’t give me any guiding path in life to tread, it didn’t suddenly instill value into things that I before considered to be without value. What it primarily did was to show me the results of ded ...more
Scribble Orca
May 07, 2015 Scribble Orca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Scribble by: Barbara Wright
UPDATE: Queneau's Exercises in Style is given the Geoff Wilt treatment in Verbivoracious Festschrift Volume Three: The Syllabus.

-- Who the fuck writes the same thing 99 times over? Pretentious twit! Don't bother.

-- A masterpiece of style, grammar, innovation, elegance, a tour de force of wizardry, erudition, humour and social commentary. Chapeau M'sieur Queneau.

-- I didn't really get the headings. Were those meant to be chapters?

-- Mate, don't be late, address the great and adumbrate, there'll b
Ian Klappenskoff

(view spoiler)

MJ Nicholls

(view spoiler)

Pearls before a swine? Perhaps.

It definitely takes a lot of talent for someone to tell one completely unremarkable story 99 times and still make a fun and readable book out of it. What Queneau (and the translator) has done here is really clever work, no doubt. And I can imagine this whole exercise must have been very amusing for him. But that doesn't mean reading it will be just as enjoyable as writing it was.**

These are exercises in writing in English (originally French). I do have some working
The premise of this book is simple - a little anecdote about a man on a bus, a story so bland that you wouldn't even put it into your cycle of small talk. This book is not bland because the execution is dazzling. Queneau tells the same story in over a hundred different ways, ranging from Operatic English to Tanka to onomatopoeia to set theory to high art to Cockney slang.

Such a book would normally be untranslatable, and there are some noticeable changes from the original. Cockney slang is a subs
I feel like this book's high average rating is caused mostly by the fact that the only people who would even know about it are the sort of people who'd like it. So, though I didn't hate it completely, I'm here to offer a dissenting opinion:

This book kind of sucks.

It's a short, anticlimactic anecdote about a scuffle on a bus, told in 99 different styles. I imagine this is already enough to turn off most people, but in case this still sounds really good to you, be apprised that none of those styl
What makes a good story? Plot, characters or structure? Maybe the stories we enjoy aren’t enjoyable because of its components, maybe they are enjoyable because of the way they were written or told. A good narrator is incredibly important to catch our attention and interest as long as the story lasts, otherwise there is a chance of being misled or left disheartened. What Raymond Queneau brings you in Exercises in Style is a set of 99 narrators; each equally amusing, entertaining and knowledgeable ...more
This is a lot of fun at the beginning as you realise exactly what Queneau has challenged himself to do here: rewrite the same little scene about a gangly young man in a badly fitting overcoat and an odd hat, in different styles, ninety-nine times! After number twenty however, the various word play games are no longer quite as funny. After number forty, you’re pretty sceptical about Queneau's mental health. By number sixty, you’re seriously worried about your own. By number eighty, you’re seeing ...more
MJ Nicholls
* Edit: May 13 2011 *

I finally bought a copy of this ingenious little number and read it through again. I think my favourite mode has to be ‘Reactionary,’ where the narrator makes angry pronouncements on the world around him while telling the bus altercation story. It wasn’t as funny the second time around, but nothing ever is, sadly. I looked up some of the more specific verse forms that escaped me on the first read and smiled more knowingly. (A more knowing smile involves greater purchase on t
On Exercices de Style, considered his masterpiece and most influential work, Raymond Queneau said, “People have tried to see it as an attempt to demolish literature--that was not at all my intention. In any case my intention was merely to produce some exercises; the finished product may possibly act as a kind of rust-remover to literature to help to rid it of some of its scabs. If I’ve been able to contribute a little to this, then I am very proud, especially if I have done it without boring the ...more
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This was The Well-Tempered Clavier, but in writing.

Given its status and how loved this book seems to be on GR, I feel somewhat like it’s an epic F.A.I.L on my part to not have been blown away by it. But seriously, guys, I don’t get it.

It’s clever, I’ll give you that. Other than that, it’s mostly gimmicky, sometimes amusing, and occasionally interesting. I liked the episodes rewritten as told by a yokel or in mangled French as spoken by an English person (amusing), as well as the episodes rewri
Eddie Watkins
This shames me to say but I was not originally on the bus with Queneau's Exercises in Style, yet I pretended to be, sitting right beside the dude with the long neck and the eccentric hat. I was not being myself, not beating my own drum, passengers stepping all over my feet, but I could not get off the bus. Shamed if I did, shamed if I didn't. So I sat there reading his proper novels, genuinely enjoying them as the bus jostled and my feet hurt and the long neck irked me. Damn sheepish passengers! ...more
Adam Floridia
A million points for creativity, I'll give it that. A short, two paragraph vignette repeated 99 times, but each in a different style really illustrates the protean (and fun!) nature of language. There have been quite a few books that have caused me while reading to think "If I ever teach a creative writing class, I've got to use this!" Well this book actually coerced me into creating a new shelf "to-assign-in-creative-writing-class." Happy New Year! Will it be a Happy New Year? Miserable Old Day ...more
Scribble Orca
Sep 22, 2013 Scribble Orca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Since appearing to be the caboose....
Recommended to Scribble by: Barbara Wright
The review of Barbara Wright's translation: here

La plus humoristique (citation directe!):

"En partie double.
Vers le milieu de la journée et à midi, je me trouvai et montai sur la plate- forme et la terrasse arrière d'un auto - bus et d'un véhicule des transports en commun bondé et quasiment complet de la ligne S et qui va de la Contrescarpe à Champerret. Je vis et remarquai un jeune homme et un vieil adolescent assez ridicule et pas mal grotesque : cou maigre et tuyau décharné, ficelle et cordeli
Riku Sayuj
May 20, 2014 Riku Sayuj marked it as on-a-break  ·  review of another edition
Exercises and experiments in learning...
Ben Winch
OK, I get it. Finally a Queneau I can relate to! Yeah, the translation is wobbly – beset by insurmountable challenges from the get-go. But because experimentation is front and centre the wobbly English is excused, expected, acquires charm from striving after the impossible. (Still and all, translating ‘Paysan’ with ‘West Indian’ seemed random and misguided to me. Maybe some permutations could simply have been dropped?) Anyway I’m not sure what depth there is here, but there’s laughs, and it’s th ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Bruce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in writing, poetry, storytelling, or humor
Recommended to Bruce by: Ian Klappenskoff

The Motion Picture



Engine rumbling becoming


A boorish OAF jockeys for a prime position among the enclosing strap-hangers.

Oye! My foot!

Easy there.

Please, young man!

The SMOLDERING HALF-MASCARA'D EYES of BOWLER, himself pressed in five girths down. Watching.


The bus pulls to the curb.


A pensioner rises and exits.

Deftly as a trapeze artist,
Utterly entertaining, full of linguistic games and imaginative variations of the same story.
Angelo Giardini

Exercises de style é uma obra do escritor francês Raymond Queneau, membro do OULIPO, publicada em 1947, na qual um mesmo simples episódio é narrado 99 vezes, em variados estilos.


Infelizmente este incompetente leitor teve que se contentar em cansar os poucos neurônios em uma tradução para o inglês, porque, como irremediável preguiçoso que é, não dedicou o menor tempo a aprender o francês, idioma que em verdade nunca iria ser capaz de dominar de qualquer forma.


A despei
raymond queneau's brilliant 1947 classic could have as easily been titled achievements of ingenuity. written more than a decade before he would co-found the workshop of potential literature (oulipo), exercises in style is one of the preeminent examples (and executions) of constrained writing. beginning with a short account of an entirely inconsequential event, queneau tells the same episode ninety-nine times, but with each entry written using whatever stylistic limitation he's opted to incorpora ...more
Raymond Queneau tells an innocuous micro-story about a testy guy on a bus, whom later he spots elsewhere. The content of the story is meaningless, and actually the foundation of a series of exercises where the same story is retold in 99 variants. A variable, style, or theme is foregrounded in each entry: biased, reactionary, auditory, gustatory, colors, logical analysis, haiku, etc. Initially, I was charmed by how the shift in emphasis reframes an entire story and makes subsequent entries seem f ...more
I enjoyed this much more in French than in English, and can't find any reason for this except that I must have changed a lot in the three years or so between the readings. I was, I think, much more interested (and convinced) by the central concept and its artistic (as opposed to merely conceptual) merit this time around. The repetitive description of such a mundane event elevates it to something resembling art and allows some very interesting (and often meta) things to be done, such as finishing ...more

« C’est en écrivant qu’on devient écriveron. »

C’est-à-dire, il faut se concentrer sur le « comment » plutôt que sur le « quoi » du texte. C’est-à-dire, même un thème « assez mince » (selon les propres mots de l'auteur) peut « grossir » (selon ma propre blague douteuse ) si on sait comment la communiquer. C’est-à-dire, la forme prévaut sur le contenu. Parfois jusqu’à le remplacer.

Ou c’est ce qu’il paraît énoncer ce petit livre au titre écolier qui nous détourne dès le début. Seulement s’il pourr
Jim Elkins
I returned to Queneau’s Exercises in Style to help me think a little more about the contemporary “conceptual poetry” and unoriginality movement associated with Craig Dworkin, Marjorie Perloff, Kenny Goldsmith, and others. These remarks start with the contemporary movement, and then I turn to Queneau.

1. The current state of constrained writing
The current movement explores unoriginality as a theme, and it is itself historically unoriginal. Its interest in writing constrained by rules develops them
Funny, imaginative and burlesque, Queneau's Exercises In Style is a brilliant piece of experimental writing, ostensibly about nothing in particular and at the same time essentially about writing something in particular: Stories.

In Exercises In Style, Raymond Queneau exposes the artifice of writing.

Here's the plot and let's use the word plot loosely here: On a crowded bus at midday, the narrator observes one man accusing another of jostling him deliberately. When a seat is vacated, the first man
Evidently Raymond Queneau sat down one day and decided it would be just dandy to write a cute little story about someone watching a man being jostled on the bus and then seeing the same man a bit later being told he needed an extra button on his coat. Evidently he was so taken with this story that he decided to rewrite it again in a different style. 99 times.

Now this takes pastiche to a whole new level, and I was never quite sure what he was trying to achieve. I guess it was just an attempt to
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  • Oulipo Compendium
  • A Void
  • The Opposing Shore
  • Oulipo: A Primer of Potential Literature
  • Locus Solus
  • Jealousy
  • Death Sentence
  • Bouvard and Pecuchet
  • The Devil in the Flesh
  • 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style
  • Collected Poems and Other Verse
  • Heartsnatcher
  • The Ogre
  • Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician
  • The Great Fire of London: A Story with Interpolations and Bifurcations
  • The Holy Terrors
Queneau was born in Le Havre in 1903 and went to Paris when he was 17. For some time he joined André Breton's Surrealist group, but after only a brief stint he dissociated himself. Now, seeing Queneau's work in retrospect, it seems inevitable. The Surrealists tried to achieve a sort of pure expression from the unconscious, without mediation of the author's self-aware "persona." Queneau's texts, on ...more
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