The ultimate example of constraint has to be Georges Perec, who takes the practice to absurd (and brilliant) levels.

From his Wiki:

‘ Perec is noted for his constrained writing. His 300-page novel La disparition (1969) is a lipogram, written with natural sentence structure and correct grammar, but using only words that do not contain the letter "e". It has been translated into English by Gilbert Adair under the title A Void (1994). His novella Les revenentes (1972) is a complementary univocalic piece in which the letter "e" is the only vowel used. This constraint affects even the title, which would conventionally be spelt Revenantes. An English translation by Ian Monk was published in 1996 as The Exeter Text: Jewels, Secrets, Sex in the collection Three.’

That absolutely boggles my mind.

Good newsletter, Matias, very enjoyable.


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Tom, first of all—it is a pleasure (and an honor) to know you enjoyed my work and took the time to comment. Thank you.

I haven't thought of Perec this way, but your mention of him brings back wonderful memories of a semester spent in Paris studying him, reading W. You are right. Perec and his fellow Oulipo's take constraints to an extreme. They are the ones that pushed the limits the most, and in doing so opened up so many possibilities. I feel a bit dumb—which is the best feeling one can get from conversing with a fellow writer. I should have included Perec in this essay.

I haven't read those works of his you mentioned, but now I will (after I finish going through your own list of book recommendations.) Thanks for the thoughtful comment.


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