Thursday, 19 November 2009

A quiz for you...

There's something odd about the following extract from a 50,000-plus word novel. Can you say what it is?

If youth, throughout all history, had had a champion to stand up for it; to show a doubting world that a child can think; and, possibly, do it practically; you wouldn’t constantly run across folks today who claim that “a child don’t know anything.”A child’s brain starts functioning at birth; and has, amongst its many infant convolutions, thousands of dormant atoms, into which God has put a mystic possibility for noticing an adult’s act, and figuring out its purport.

Up to about its primary school days a child thinks, naturally, only of play. But many a form of play contains disciplinary factors. “You can’t do this,” or “that puts you out,” shows a child that it must think, practically or fail. Now, if, throughout childhood, a brain has no opposition, it is plain that it will attain a position of “status quo,” as with our ordinary animals. Man knows not why a cow, dog or lion was not born with a brain on a par with ours; why such animals cannot add, subtract, or obtain from books and schooling, that paramount position which Man holds today.

But a human brain is not in that class. Constantly throbbing and pulsating, it rapidly forms opinions; attaining an ability of its own; a fact which is startlingly shown by an occasional child “prodigy” in music or school work. And as, with our dumb animals, a child’s inability convincingly to impart its thoughts to us, should not class it as ignorant.


The complete novel has the same unique 'peculiarity' - and is thus quite a remarkable achievement by Mr. Gadsby, the author, who died at age 66 just as his amazing book was published. He never even saw it as a publised book!

12 comments:

Barry said...

Is that the famous "e-less" novel. Where the author had to bolt down the "e" key on his typewriter to prevent him using it?

willow said...

Yes, I've heard of this, as well. It's a lipogram. I can't imagine how mind boggling it would be to write! Amazing...or crazy!

Shadow said...

no e's in the entire novel (as per barry)??? is that on purpose or accidental? just look how many e's i've already used...

scarlethue said...

How interesting! I bet that took a long time.

Monkey Man said...

To post without using a particular cap, would push for avail of a book of synonyms. Not child's play.

PhilipH said...

Yes, a 'lipogram' - writing without using the letter 'E'. Over 50,000 words in the novel and not an 'e' in sight.

Another author wrote a novel without using a VERB!. How, (and possibly why would one do that?

I think I might try to write something without using ANY words at all. Hieroglyphics anyone?

The Bug said...

And here I was going to complain about "a child don't know...", but I guess he couldn't use doesn't, could he? Fascinating!

the walking man said...

It is a feat but honestly I think of it as a sort of parlor trick. What is the purpose beyond the doing of it. Is the book instructional or informative or just written to not use a vowel?

Land of shimp said...

I would be a tremendous challenge, but I agree with the Walking Man, it is a bit of a parlor trick.

After all, the very first thing that caught my attention was "A child don't know..."

It is an amazing thought, an entire book without the letter E contained in it. Admittedly, I'd be more likely to be astounded by an entire novel that did not use an E, and was still grammatically correct ;-)

PhilipH said...

Yes, Alane and Mark - have to agree that it is just a challenge for Mr. Gadsby which must have been a real toughie. There is yet another author who seems to have objected to the use of a VERB in his novel!

French author Michel Thaler published a 233 page novel 'Le Train de Nulle Part' ('The Nowhere Train') which has no verbs.

No, I for one can't be doing with that! Geddit? Doing ... Oh, never mind, I'll get me coat!

Argent said...

I'd heard of the Gadsby book before. Not sure how much of a rivetin' read it would be. I couldn't write ojne. A book with no verbs? Again, can't imagine that would be a great read either.

Rebecca said...

This was very interesting. I would imagine the whole point was a sort of creative exercise taken to the extreme- to force your mind to work in a different way. I did some excercises similar to this in a creative writing class. My Professor said that they were designed to help writers think outside the box.