The other day, my husband casually mentioned the 1939 book that was written without the letter ‘E’, and we wondered if it could still be found.
(12 ‘e’s in that sentence.)
He googled it on Bing and found it after a 0.0314159 seconds search of 72,000,000 records. I pointed out that it was available as an ebook for 99 cents and he immediately bought it.
Wikpedia tells us that the novel, Gadsby, is a 1939 novel by Ernest Vincent Wright, an author with three ‘e’s in his name. Wikpedia also mentions helpfully that it is “Not to be confused with The Great Gatsby.”
The plot revolves around the dying fictional city of Branton Hills, which is revitalized as a result of the efforts of protagonist John Gadsby and a youth group he organizes.
Though self-published and little-noticed in its time, the book is a favorite of fans of constrained writing and is a sought-after rarity among some book collectors. Later editions of the book have sometimes carried the alternative subtitle: 50,000 Word Novel Without the Letter “E”.
I haven’t read it yet as I’m rather busy on my next book which will contain buckets of little ‘e’s.
But I can tell you that in the introduction he reports on some of the responses he received when word got out that he was writing it:
I have received some extremely odd criticisms since the Associated Press widely announced that such a book was being written. A rapid-talking New York newspaper columnist wanted to know how I would get over the plain fact that my name contains the letter E three times. As an author’s name is not a part of his story, that criticism did not hold water.
And I received one most scathing epistle from a lady (woman!) denouncing me as a “genuine fake;” (that paradox being a most interesting one!), and ending by saying:—” Everyone knows that such a feat is impossible.” All right. Then the impossible has been accomplished; (a paradox to equal hers!)
Other criticism may be directed at the Introduction; but this section of a story also is not part of it. The author is entitled to it, in order properly to explain his work. The story required five and a half months of concentrated endeavor, with so many erasures and retrenchments that I tremble as I think of them. Of course anybody can write such a story. All that is needed is a piece of string tied from the E type-bar down to some part of the base of the typewriter. Then simply go ahead and type your story. Incidentally, you should have some sort of a bromide preparation handy, for use when the for use when the going gets rough, as it most assuredly will !
I’ll let you know when I read it.
How Many of These Literary Landmarks Have You Been To?
At Project Literacy, GOOD notes that St. Augustine put it best when he said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”
So, are you a fair-weather fan of books, or a dedicated diehard? Do you have a bit of wanderlust, or do you prefer to read about locales instead of actually going to them? Put your jetsetting tendencies to the test.
See all the landmarks HERE
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