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The Library of Babel

A Spin-off of http://bookwormshead.blogspot.co.uk

Exercises in Style - Raymond Queneau, Barbara Wright Unfortunately I'm not able to read French. All that I can take and follow is just something more of the general sense of an article or a short novel. What a pity!

Excercises in Style is one of the funniest and maybe greatest experiment in modern literature. Five words are enough to make the plot: a man takes a tram. Queneau builds and writes 99 versions most of them no longer than a single page starting from the plain and objective description of this everyday's action.

Narrative styles, calembours, dialecticisms, parodies of lower and upper class ways of speaking, postmodern and pompous language, hermetisms and verbosities. All that you can think of about writing techniques has been thought and fixed on paper by this staggering genius called Raymond Queneau.

So what's the matter with rating? Why have I given just three stars to this undeniable masterpiece? Well, the answer has a famous name and surname: Umberto Eco. Indeed he has translated the Italian version of this book. Well, actually "translated" is not the right expression to use: Eco has written his own excercises in style instead of trying to translate properly Queneau's ones.

Surely I can understand how several excercises were difficult if not impossible to transform into Italian due for their own peculiarity like poetries. However I think that the Italian edition of this book should have been titled Umberto Eco -and not Raymond Queneau- "Excercises of style" and this heavy and inordinate role of the translator is something to avoid in literature.

Queneau deserves to be known for what he has really written and not for the furher variations he has influenced in Umberto Eco's beautiful mind.