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Esercizi di stile

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,062 Ratings  ·  367 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, ET - Scrittori #849, 238 pages
Published 2005 by Einaudi (first published 1947)
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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
Jun 16, 2015 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books

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
May 04, 2015 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  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 Vinogradus

(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
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
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)

(reread 09/13/15) The English translation better be good, because this? This is brilliant.

"Il y avait aujourd'hui dans l'autobus à côté de moi, sur la plate-forme, un de ces morveux comme on n'en fait guère, heureusement, sans ça je finirais par en tuer un."

PS. I would love to write my review as Raymond Queneau, that is to say, using several literacy techniques to relate the same story over and over and over again, but let's face it : my English needs improvement before.
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
Vit Babenco
Jun 28, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What story can be told about a brief bus ride and a button?
It can be turned into a surreal vision:
“In the centre of the day, tossed among the shoal of travelling sardines in a coleopter with a big white carapace, a chicken with a long, feather-less neck suddenly harangued one, a peace-abiding one, of their number, and its parlance, moist with protest, was unfolded upon the airs. Then, attracted by a void, the fledgling precipitated itself thereunto.
In a bleak, urban desert, I saw it again that s
Dec 10, 2015 Junta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Francophones, lovers of wordplay
Recommended to Junta by: Manny's shelf
I think this is a book that should be read in its original language of French. I loved the idea of this book, but my expectations were perhaps a little too high. The low rating is not the book's fault, but my goddamn own - excuse my (lack of) French.

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 takes it. Later, in another part of town, the man is spotted again while being advised by a friend to have
Feb 03, 2015 Deepthi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Apr 22, 2012 knig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2012
.... --- .-- -- .- -. -.-- ..-. ..- -.-. -.- .. -. --. - .. -- . ... -.. --- .. .... .- ...- . - --- ... .- -.-- - .... .. ... -... . ..-. --- .-. . .. - ... .. -. -.- ... .. -. ---... .- -- .- -. --- -. .- -... ..- ... .... .- ... .- -... ..- - - --- -. .-.-.-
Jan 04, 2016 [P] rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitch-please

My reaction to books like Raymond Queneau’s Exercises In Style is comparable to my reaction when faced with certain works of conceptual, or modern, art, such as, for example, Martin Kippenberger’s Wittgenstein. What I mean by this is that the enjoyment I derive from them is superficial, is immediate but not long-lasting; in fact, I tend to find equal or greater enjoyment in the concepts or ideas being described to me as I do in experiencing them myself.

To my mind, the most basic pre-
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
Dec 25, 2014 Aldrin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 18, 2015 Yoana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yoana by: господин Иванов, най-добрият учител по литература в света
Начи бате, качвам се в рейса неска по обед, щото бегах от даскало. И вътре, бате, некъв гъз – ама тъп ти казвам, дигна некъв ебати скандала, бате. Били го бутали, ми в рейса кво иска. Вика, вика и избега да седне, бате, казвам ти, пълен гъз.
Към 5, бехме се направили на гъз с френдовете, и се връщам пак с рейса, бате, и гледам оня същия гъз пред Попа с некъв същия като него, бате – и оня: „Аре опраи се бе, глей къв си изсулен”. Пълен шит, бате, казвам ти.

Ко стаа ве лек! Въй, лек
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
Oct 14, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-fiction
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
Jun 16, 2015 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Utterly entertaining, full of linguistic games and imaginative variations of the same story.
Jan 29, 2016 Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Recommended for anyone who loves language and storytelling, but perhaps has lost faith in words, and needs to be reminded of their power and their flexibility, of their limitless possibility. Those who wish for that lost faith to be restored and rejuvenated, read Queneau's exercises and go merrily forth in your reading life, cleansed of doubt and enlivened in mind.
Riku Sayuj
May 20, 2014 Riku Sayuj marked it as on-a-break  ·  review of another edition
Exercises and experiments in learning...
Jim Elkins
Mar 24, 2016 Jim Elkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
I returned to Queneau’s "Exercises in Style" in 2012 to help me think about contemporary “conceptual writing” and the unoriginality movement associated with Craig Dworkin, Marjorie Perloff, Kenneth Goldsmith, and others. These remarks start with the contemporary movement, and then I turn to Queneau.

1. The state of constrained writing
Currently rule-bound or constrained writing is associated with the movement broadly known as "conceptual writing," which itself blends several potentially different
Scribble Orca
Sep 22, 2013 Scribble Orca rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Ben Winch
Oct 30, 2013 Ben Winch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in writing, poetry, storytelling, or humor
Recommended to Bruce by: Ian Vinogradus

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,
Riku Sayuj
Nov 26, 2011 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing amazing book!
Simona Bartolotta
Nov 17, 2015 Simona Bartolotta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1900
E' geniale e divertente oltre ogni immaginazione. Non me lo sarei mai aspettato, sinceramente. Certo, non tutti gli "stili" raggiungono l'eccellenza, ma a compensare il dislivello ci sono alcuni esperimenti che 1) fanno sbellicare, e 2) ti fanno pensare: "Ma come caspita gli è venuto in mente?" o, in alternativa: "E' così semplice che avrei potuto benissimo pensarci io", al che ti danni perché ti rendi conto che l'effetto che può avere la semplicità -se unita al talento, ovviamente- è oltremodo ...more
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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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