A Novel Without The Letter “E”


Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • entire: whole; complete
  • constrain: to restrict or force rules on someone
  • translate: to rewrite or express in a different language
  • refrain: to avoid
  • driven: motivated

A Novel Without The Letter “E”

A French novelist named Georges Perec wrote an entire novel without using the letter “e”. La Disparition (The Disappearance, 1969) was an in “constrained writing”. Constrained writing is a technique writers use to seek new and writing patterns. Perec’s novel has been translated into a few languages, including English. A Void, the English translation, was also written without the letter “e”. The letter “e” is the most commonly used letter in English. The translation of Perec’s novel refrains from using the letter “a”. In Spanish, “a” is the most used letter. Georges Perec, own name has four “e’s” in it, was driven to become a writer after losing his parents in World War II. In French, the expression “without e” (sans e) sounds the same as “without them” (sans eux).

Comprehension Questions

  1. What is the title of the English translation of Perec’s novel?
  2. What writing technique did Perec use when writing his novel?
  3. Why was the Spanish translation of La Disparition written without the letter “a”?

Discussion Questions: Try writing a few sentences without the letter “e”. How does imposing a constraint improve or change one’s writing?

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