A Void

I know a masterpiece made by restrictions.

That is “A Void.” A modern French novel by Mr. Georges Perec. The original French title is “La Disparition”, which means "The Disappearance." What restricts this novel is that this novel is never allowed to contain the letter E, the most common letter in writing French novels. Never once. It was a very hard, almost impossible trial. And its writer, Mr. Georges Perec did the feat. Incredible, yet he did it indeed.

Then why did he impose on himself the kind of constraint? Certainly, he was neither crazy nor twisted. The novel was neither mere literary acrobatics nor mere a technical effort. He had no choice other than making the attempt for expressing what he really wanted to express.

Then what did he want to express? According to a website “Reading Georges Perec”, Mr. Georges Perec explains why he had avoided the letter E in his “Postscript.” According to the postscript, he wanted to express his loneliness and emptiness which he felt after he lost his parents in World War Two by forbidding himself to say the words relevant to his family, for instance, père, which means “father”, mère, which means “mother”, parents, which means “parents”, famille which means “family,” and by forbidding himself to write his own name Georges Perec. Avoiding the letter E was the best way for him to impose the forbidding on himself, and the best way for him to express his sense of absence.

What Mr. Georges Perec did, writing a novel which does not contain a fixed letter like E, is a kind of constrained writing, writing things in some condition that forbids certain things or imposes a pattern. Thanks to constrained writing, Mr. Georges Perec was able to declare his strong will to express what he wanted to express by keeping on following the very harsh constraint. Also, constrained writing gave Mr. Georges Perec a chance to try new words and expressions by depriving him of freedom to write things freely in his familiar words and expressions. That was how constrained writing enabled Mr. Georges Perec to create this original great work, “A Void.”

I have had the same experience. I wrote a short story in only one-syllable words. This writing training prompted my creative thinking in the one-syllable-constraint, and I got shocked at my story, whose idea, plot and expressions were far from my expectation. The story had a fresher appeal for me than what I had always written had. Constrained writing enabled me to create my original work beyond my expectation like Mr. Georges Perec, indeed his work was far better than mine.

Finally, I will give two amazing facts of this article. First, I have not finished reading this novel yet. I’m sorry for my dishonesty.

Second, the thing is, this article does not contain one English vowel letter.

That’s all. Thanks for reading.


This article is my modified speech draft whose original I presented in an English class "Creative Thinking" in Todai. Do not plagiarize this article.





気付いて貰えて嬉しいよ ! やったね !