Exercises in Style
The plot of Exercises in Style is simple: a man gets into an argument with another passenger on a bus. However, this anecdote is told 99 more times, each in a radically different style, as a sonnet, an opera, in slang, and with many more permutations. This virtuoso set of variations is a linguistic rust-remover, and a guide to literary forms.
(view spoiler)[“Exercises in Style” retells an apparently unremarkable tale ninety-nine times, employing a variety of styles, ranging from sonnet to cockney to mathematical formula. Too funny to be merely a pedantic thesis, this virtuoso set of themes and variations is a linguistic rust-remover, a guide to literary forms and a demonstration of imagery and inventiveness. (hide spoiler)]
(view spoiler)[I finally located my copy of this ingenuous little number in my attic and read it...more
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...more
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...more
This new addition has added more 'exercises' plus additional works by Johathan Lethem. Harry Mathews, Lynne Tillman, and my current fave Enrique Vila-Matas, among others. And one wonders how many times can one tell a tale? The answer is endless.
The beauty of looking at a subject matter and tearing...more
EXERCISES IN STYLE
The Motion Picture
INT. CROWDED CITY BUS – DAY
Engine rumbling becoming
(BEETHOVEN'S 7th, ALLEGRETTO MVT.)
A boorish OAF jockeys for a prime position among the enclosing strap-hangers.
Oye! My foot!
GROCERY BAG LADY
Please, young man!
The SMOLDERING HALF-MASCARA'D EYES of BOWLER, himself pressed in five girths down. Watching.
EXT. URBAN STREET
The bus pulls to the curb.
A pensioner rises and exits.
Deftly as a trapeze artist,...more
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...more
Really. That's the book.
Let's for the moment leave aside the question of why on earth anyone would do such a thing. For in any case, it has been done, and done quite hilariously and brilliantly. In each telling, the author assumes a different point of view and/or a differ...more
Seriously though, I wasn't blown away by this at all. I like the idea, and you have to give props to the author for being so talented that a book like this could be written. I suppose what you think about this is dependent on how you approach it.
If you're wowed by how many styles this is written in, I can see it getting 5 stars or whatever you want to give it. To me, this comes off like listening to a guitarist wank on his guitar for 4 minutes and there not rea...more
C'est ce qu'il n'a pas fait, déplorons-nous.
Les "exercices de style" sont autant de redondance de la même histoire écrite de manière différente, c'est-à-dire que seule la forme, l'enveloppe, l'apparence change. C'est superficiel.
Fidèle à l'Oulipo, Queneau se livre ici à une entreprise dégoûtante et malveill...more
Very funny !
Dans un autobus (qu'il ne faut pas prendre pour un autre bus), je vis (et pas avec une vis) un personnage (qui ne perd pas son âge) coiffé d'un chapeau (pas d'une peau de chat) cerné d'un fil tressé (et non de tril fessé). Il possédait (et non pot cédait) un long cou (et pas un loup con). Comme la foule se bousculait (non que la boule se fousculât), un nouveau voyageur (et non un veau nouillageur) déplaça le susdit (et non suça...more
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...more
Is it a novel? A collection of stories? A textbook for demonstrating an amazing array of styles? An experiment as stated in the title? In the foreword, translator Barbara Wright says t...more
Calder Publications, 1998
So there's this guy named Raymond Queneau, right, and one day he decides to write the same little scene (i.e. a man is jostled by another man on the bus and they argue, then the first man goes and sits down; later on the narrator spots him being questioned by a friend about his fashion sense) in ten different styles. He sends the completed work in to a literary magazine and the editor looks at it and is puzzled and sends it back. Then...more
Raymond Queneau's 1947 story is this, in it's entirety: Queneau sees one man accusing another of jostling him on a Paris bus. The first man quickly grabs a vacated seat. Later, in another part of town, Queneau sees the man being advised by a friend that he needs a new button on his overcoat.
Queneau tells the two paragraph story 99 times, each time using a different literary style...more
He was incredibly tall. It was his neck, actually – strikingly long. It gave him an air of elegance and superiority, even if he only saw it as awkwardness and was often ashamed of it. In the tumultuous years of puberty it was just the thing to push him further into seclusion which he had chosen long ago – since the earliest childhood he had been burdened by self-consciousness, inexplicable guilt and constant loneliness. There were governesses and at times he would even spend an hour...more