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On a crowded bus at midday, Raymond Queneau observes one man accusing another of jostling him deliberately. When a seat is vacated, the first man appropriates it. Later, in another part of town, Queneau sees the man being advised by a friend to sew another button on his overcoat. "Exercises in Style" retells this unexceptional tale ninety-nine times in ninety-nine different styles. An 'Abusive' chapter heartily deplores the events, 'Opera English' lends them grandeur. Raymond Queneau rendered Barbara Wright his 'heartiest congratulations', adding, 'I have always thought that nothing is untranslatable. Here is new proof'.
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"Witty, playful, ingenious, it manages to transcend its own
sophistication by a sort of verbal slapstick which Miss Wright translates
into Pure Groucho Marxism."
-- The Guardian
One of the most versatile and interesting of French twentieth
century authors, Queneau (1903-1976) was widely respected as an
intellectual, but also touched a bestseller public, and can be compared to
James Joyce, his friend, in his originality and ability to write
simultaneously on many levels. He was a legendary figure, not only in the
literary world, but as mathematician, philosopher and editor of the
Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. His translations by Barbara Wright are literary
masterpieces in themselves.
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