Return to Lipogram (idea)

A lipogram is a text written completely without the use of one letter (the most common letter to exclude is 'e' - a lipogram with 'z' is far less intresting). The word itself is a 'back-formation' of the Greek adjective lipogrammatos which means 'wanting a letter'. The word was first used by the playwright Joseph Addison in 1711 in his work The Spectator. In this piece he looks upon lipograms in a poor light classifying them as "false wit" akin to anagrams claiming that wordplay alone does not create great literature.

The most famous of these is Gadsby, written by Ernest Vincent Wright in 1939 - a total of 287 pages. Another novel along this artistic line, several other works exist Georges Perec with his novel La disparation published in 1969 (the English translation is A Void by Gilbert Adair).

In 1820, Dr. Franz Rittler published Die Zwillinge which was written without the use of the letter 'r'. In 1800 the Russian poet Gavrila Romanovich Dershavin write the novel A Waggish Wish without the letter 'r' and remarkably few 'o's.

An except from Gadsby:

Gadsby was walking back from a visit down in Branton Hills' manufacturing district on a Saturday night. A busy day's traffic had its noisy run; and with not many folks in sight; His Honor got along without having to stop to grasp a hand, or talk; for a Mayor out of City Hall is a shining mark for any politician. And so, coming to Broadway, a booming bass drum and sounds of singing, told of a small Salvation Army unit carrying on amidst Broadway's night shopping crowds. Gadsby, walking toward that group, saw a young girl, back towards him, just finishing a long soulful oration, saying: --

". . . and I can say this to you, for I know what I am talking about; for I was brought up in a pool of liquor!!"

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