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An Entire Novel Without The Letter 'e'  

Gadsby Novel without letter "e"


Okay, so all those who have got that sharp memory might remember that I had earlier told you all about An Entire Novel With No Verbs. But here comes another amazing feat that has been achieved by Earnst Wright..

"Gadsby" is a novel by Earnst Wincent Wright written around 1939. It is famous for NOT containing the letter 'e', the most common letter in the English language! To top it all, let me tell you that the novel is more than 50,000 words long and has 267 pages!!

If you don't believe me, let me clarify what Wikipedia says about this novel:

  • The novel is about 50,100 words long.
  • The lack of the letter 'e' makes Gadsby a lipogram, or an example of constrained writing.
  • The use of odd punctuation, contrived language, and disjointed air carry on throughout the book.
  • As well as having to avoid common words such as 'the', 'he', and 'she', Wright made the task particularly hard for himself by setting Gadsby in the past tense, while avoiding the verb ending '-ed'.
  • He also made valiant attempts to include objects that ordinarily require the letter E, such as a horse-drawn fire engine; he achieved this by describing the object without quite naming it.
  • Wright never saw his work in print - he died at the age of 66 on the day it was published.

You can read here the Introduction of the novel by the author, in which he even states that:


THE ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT of this story was written with the E type-bar of the typewriter tied down; thus making it impossible for that letter to be printed. This was done so that none of that vowel might slip in, accidentally.

Now, wasn't that interesting?

Now, if you infer that 'e' is one of the letters we may not be using in our writings much, let me further point out to the fact that you are mistaken here too!

The letter 'e' is the most commonly used letter in English language (frequency being 12.70 %), followed by the letter 't' which has a frequency of usage of only 9.05 %. The letter frequency chart shows letters in this order:

e t a o i n s r h l d c u m f p g w y b v k x j q z

If you think it's sheer madness or it is very difficult to write such a lengthy novel, let me tell you that this is not the only one such book.

La Disparition ("The Disappearance") is another 300 page French lipogrammatic novel, written in 1969 by Georges Perec, " without the letter "e". The English translation Gilbert Adair is named "A Void".

But if you still think that it is easy, try writing a single meaningful paragraph in the comment box without the letter 'e' :D


Meghna, the Author




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46 comments

  1. chikoos  

    Just trying to fill up this block with words that do not contain you know what.

  2. Gad  

    Wow, that's amazing, how could that be possible? - oops, two 'e's

  3. Meghna  

    Hi chikoos,
    Yes, it was interesting to see that you try to make a comment without using the letter 'e'. Now you might be wondering how difficult it is!!

  4. HART (1-800-HART)  

    ...written around 1939. It is famous for containing the letter'e'...

    I presume you mean "it is famous for NOT containing the letter 'e' :)

    After doing a little research myself on this (VERY little :D) I've concluded that he probably should have used the letter "e" more often .. there are too many commas and descriptions .. It's Thanksgiving Turkey!! Not "that holiday bird"

  5. Meghna  

    Hi Gad,
    Now you see how difficult it is, isn't it? Almost impossible!!

  6. Meghna  

    Hi Hart,

    Thank you for the correction. Yes, it was NOT and I corrected it.

    You've done a wonderful research. Yes, maybe... he should have used more 'e's... Thanks.

  7. Chris  

    And what do I say to a girl with such a fantastic disposition? Do I ask for anything not intrinsic in my own soul, or do I ask for an infinity of arrows from cupid? I think that I shall only try to bargain for what is in the cards. Nothing can stop happy. Nothing can stop things in foils of chronos arms; nor start that which is not.


    "I did my best and beleive I did not put in E in the above."

  8. SSB  

    This is immposible! :D I tried to come up w/ something to say w/o the letter "e" my mind can't figure it out. Interesting post. I guess I'll have to find a copy of the book. :)

  9. Meghna  

    Hello Chris,
    Must say, I could not make much sense of what you said until I read the last line. A wonderful try. I suppose you could even try your hands at a short story if not a novel, eh?

  10. Meghna  

    Hi ssb,
    That is what I thought too but you must grab a coy of the book, to believe it yourself. It certainly is really really tough :P

  11. Ms Cris  

    Cannot do that without a lot of typos. I should skip so many of it, I'd not try.
    Wow I did it!

    But hmm I want to actually flick through this book.

  12. Meghna  

    Hi Cris,
    You did good without any typos. A fabulous job....
    Hey...I did it too :P
    You should do that soon :)

  13. Anonymous  

    Amazing tidbit of thought. It is thoroughly hard to think of as many words as you can without using that symbol. It's a good workout for your brain! I don't know how long I could do this. Probably not a lot in addition to this. I think it's cool though.

  14. vijay_chandra_mouli  

    I saw this just now, but this isn't so tough. It's worth a try.

    (huh, managed a bland line, but its awesome to write a whole book without "e". Hope it ended up being a good read).

  15. Meghna  

    @ Vijay- LOL! It must be a good read! Nice try bro :)

  16. Amogh  

    "Carrots stink", said John to his mom during lunch. "No carrots don't stink. It is you who think so."said his mom. Now finish all carrots in front of you."said his mom. Saying that, John throws off all the carrots into the trash bin.

    Well this is tough. U will have 2 make up a story without 'e' thinking not 'bout the topic u want. But a topic which doesn't contain e!

    Well, i tried my best above.

  17. Amogh  

    "Carrots stink", said John to his mom during lunch. "No carrots don't stink. It is you who think so."said his mom. Now finish all carrots in front of you."said his mom. Saying that, John throws off all the carrots into the trash bin.

    Well this is tough. U will have 2 make up a story without 'e' thinking not 'bout the topic u want. But a topic which doesn't contain e!

    Well, i tried my best above.

  18. Anonymous  

    Sorry i posted 2 of em

  19. Meghna  

    @ Amogh- wow...thats a fabulous try!! Am proud of you....its a much more difficult task than it looks :P

    No probs :)

  20. Joe Deanie  

    ha ha ! as i post this i find that i am also within the ability to conduct a working paragraph ; in which said symbol ( that i shall so aptly call it, ) occurs in no word at all !
    upon writing this i find that I'm now very smug about it and happy with what has occurred, with that my amigos, i bid you all adios.
    -Jo.D...smart ass.

  21. Joe Deanie  

    ha, that sucked joe d did use one, in occured, what a fuck tard.

  22. Anonymous  

    why would somebody try such a daunting task, think about the impossibility of not using such an important part of our day to day writing,id like to skim the book in order to view if mr.wright didnt throw in an (*) just to test our ability to stay in focus

    NO E's YEAH!!!!!

  23. Anonymous  

    It is famous for consisting only of words not containing a particular (and most common) writing symbol (to clarify: that which follows 'd'). Gadsby is thus a lipogram, or a display of constraint in writing—a difficult art. It is 50,100 words long, and Wright's fourth book. Wright informs us in Gadsby's introduction of having had to impair his own writing contraption to avoid slipups. Quoting from its initial paragraph, for a look into its mood: "If youth, throughout all history, had a champion to stand up for it; to show a doubting world that a child can think; and, possibly, do it practically; you wouldn't constantly run across folks today who claim that "a child don't know anything." A child's brain starts functioning at birth; and has, amongst its many infant convolutions, thousands of dormant atoms, into which God has put a mystic possibility for noticing an adults act, and figuring out its purport." This abundant utilization of punctuation and disjoint air go on throughout Gadsby in Wright's fight to accomplish his lipogram—it struck a fatal blow, though, as Wright would pass away on its day of publication.

    i did some research and i found this(my mom actually owns a copy)and plus i used no Es

  24. Anonymous  

    i think i did the best and it wasn't that hard to me

  25. Anonymous  

    ANONYMOUS on October1, 2009 used three es even though they said they didn't. just pointing that out. also, get this. my english teacher assigned my class a 100 word essay about why language is important, and we're not allowed to use the letter e. needless to say, i am going to fail. someone pass the thesorus!

  26. Anonymous  

    ok. i have finished my 100 word essay without using the letter e. here it goes(i know it sucks, but i'm still going to get 10% because i answered the question without using e. it's also very morbid and gloomy, but i was running out of things to say...):

    Communication is important in all of our world and its many dynamics. Wihthout communication, not many things could occur. All human activity is difficult without communication. Without communication, our country would not control as much, or obtain as many bountiful things, for without communication, trading and purchasing goods would hold much difficulty for all groups participating. Jobs, food for a family, clithing, and all basic living compulsions would hold much difficulty to obstain . If our world lost its communication, chaos would most probably follow, causing a crisis of a most grim constetution. All is lost without communication. Know that I am not actually this morbid and slow. this was simply a poor try at writing what was cast.
    119 words.

  27. Karen & Gerard Zemek  

    This is amazing! I'll post about it in my Friday Things post at www.zemeks.blogspot.com with a link back here.

  28. Raj  

    this is amazing

    its good to know folks try writing such stuff

    yo, i did that !!!

  29. Agatahnai  

    Naturally, this book is an amazing work of art. Its distinguishing mark is its lack of a particular digit, that which is obvious in any book or writing. I can't wait to look at it!

  30. CJ  

    I'm in adoration of all things Oulipo and lipogramatic. It has a kind of rhythm, its own sound, like a bass in the background - it could start your blood.

  31. Anonymous  

    Humanity is an amazing thing. It will do so much, I think. Its brain it so amazing it has built so much. It visits orbit and bottoms of big bits of H2O. Cars and trains pull us along without us having to push. Our food is brought to our shops and bars without us putting any work in.
    Last Friday a tsunami hit Japan. It hurt but Japan still functions and its humans work as a group to build up Japan to a good position again. Japan is an amazing location, its natural good look is 2nd to its ability to build amazing bits of small robotics and similar.
    But along with building amazing robotics our ability to find ways to kill our compatriots is 2nd to nothing. Bombs that can kill millions of us in 1 go was built in many locations all so that humans could claim victory. This is not how our compatriots should

  32. Ashley  

    (Not even trying to leave out the 'e'. :) )

    I'd say, even more impressive than a novel without the letter 'e' is the book Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. It slowly eradicates every letter from the alphabet down to lmnop. It starts with Z, then Q, then D and goes on from there. It's AMAZING!

  33. Anonymous  

    it is simple to not post that thing you know i cant post in this block :)

  34. Nayrad  

    It's amazing, isn't it? A human man with such a book, without a part of ABC's. I know that I could not pull such a thing, away from X Y and Z. It's admiringly hard, but it's worth a try. I might, during a long day. But not any day soon. That's it for now. -Nayrad
    P.S I'm only 11 yrs. old.

  35. patriot9878  

    I wrote a a paragraph about 1,000 words without using the letter e and it was not easy. Try writing a paragraph without using that the letter e, see how hard it is. I guess an erection would be lots of blood in main vain

  36. Anonymous  

    i have to write an intire 100 word report without using e! it is so hard i havent even startted and its due in 2 days!

  37. Anonymous  

    i am painting a photograph of dogs in a park, That walk with passion and sufistication.

  38. ramona  

    TO ANONYMOUS: DOES IT COUNT AS FAILURE WHERE THE E (WHETHER A TYPO OR SUBCONSCIOUS MECHANISM) IS USED IN THE WORD, CONSTITUTION?

  39. KT  

    I just found this discussion and sought to give it a try. I find this particularly tough to do and won’t try to do so again, so long as it is not mandatory to do so. I wish that it is mandatory on no occasion, as it is shockingly difficult. I just thought it may allow a slight bit of fun is all.

  40. JR  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  41. Anonymous  

    My teacher is making us write a 300 minimal essay without using any E's.. He kind of sucks. lol. I'm only a freshman in high school, in an non-advanced class.

  42. Anonymous  

    My teacher is making us write a 300 minimal essay without using any E's.. He kind of sucks. lol. I'm only a freshman in high school, in an non-advanced class.** Forgot to mention that he only gave us a day..**

  43. Ididyourgirl13  

    wow, thats amazing, in my creative writing class we have to do a poem with out any 'E's. >:| its very difficult >:\

  44. DrBill  

    Gadsby's skillful application of lipogrammatic writing brings nothing but joy that is worthy of a rousing chorus. Kudos to Mr Gadsby!

  45. Anonymous  

    Good day,
    Such a glorious morning today, but a bit chilly. So i took a walk to a fancy building with my dog. I bit into a taco and salsa got on my pants. so I put on a skirt with stars on it. tomorrow, i shall put on a abstract skirt, and will fancy your opinion.
    Thanks,
    ............

    - there you go!! no e's

  46. Anonymous  

    I did a search for 'e' on a downloaded copy of the book and found the word 'the' on pp. 51, 103, 124; and 'officers' on p. 213.

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