ContentsForeword – Umberto Eco Exercises in Style

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It’s fair to say that Exercises in Style turns the current thinking about writing entirely, and brilliantly, on its head.

Exercises in Style

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  • 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (2005) is a seriously playful exploration of the possibilities and potential of comics and storytelling. It was inspired by the French author Raymond Queneau’s 1947 book Exercises in Style ( ), itself inspired by Bach’s . The book is based on a simple one-page anecdote which I re-draw and re-tell 99 times in different genres and drawing styles, in the form of homages and parodies, and in formal experiments that test the boundaries of the medium of comics.

    Anyway, anyway, to mark the release of this, ND posted a two-part conversation between Daniel Levin Becker and Chris Clarke about Queneau, Exercises in Style, and the Oulipo in general. You can read part one and click for part two. And below are a few interesting bits:

  • Daniel Levin Becker: Maybe we should start with the book a little bit, if only to make it topical, and then go more general from there? For the sake of doing what I just suggested, here’s a question: what do you think is the particular relevance of Exercises in Style today?

    In 1998, I sent an invitation out to a group of cartoonist friends asking them to create their own one-page comic based on a short text description of the 99X scenario. It is with pleasure and gratitude that I offer you this international of guest exercises in style.

    Exercises in Style
    1947 hardback edition
    Author Raymond Queneau
    Original title Exercices de style
    Translator Barbara Wright (English)
    Illustrator Mario Prassinos
    Country France
    Language French
    Genre Constrained writing, Fiction
    Publisher Gallimard
    Publication date
    1947
    Published in English
    1958
    Media type Print

  • Title: Exercises in Style
    Author: Raymond Queneau
    Genre: Fiction
    Written: 1947 (Eng. 1958)
    Length: 197 pages
    Original in: French
    Availability: Exercises in Style - US
    Exercises in Style - UK
    Exercises in Style - Canada
    Exercices de style - Canada
    Exercises in Style - India
    Exercices de style - France
    Stilübungen - Deutschland
    Esercizi di stile - Italia
    Ejercicios de estilo - España

    "By Telegram". One of the Exercises in Style from Queneau´s famous book.

    "Telegraphisch". Eine der "Stilübungen", nach Raymond Queneau´s berühmten gleichnamigen Buch.

Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau | To Read Or Not To Read

On a crowded bus at midday, Raymond Queneau observes one man accusing another of jostling him deliberately. When a seat is vacated, the first man appropriates it. Later, in another part of town, Queneau sees the man being advised by a friend to sew a new button on his overcoat. Exercises in Style, Queneu’s experimental masterpiece and a hallmark book of the OULIPO literary group, retells this unexceptional tale in ninety-nine exceptional ways, employing writing styles such as the sonnet and the alexandrine, onomatopoeia and even Cockney.