Trivia

Hard

A Lipogram Is A Book In Which What Is Omitted?

A Specific Letter
Character Names
Proper Nouns
Numbers
The cover of the 1939 novel Gadsby, noted for not containing the letter E.
Ernest Vincent Wright/Wikimedia

Answer: A Specific Letter

The lipogram is a curiosity that extends all the way back to Ancient Greece, wherein the author of a poem or piece of literature goes out of their way to exclude a letter or group of letters from the work in question.

While the exclusion of uncommon letters is a trivial task (and can even happen by accident, as we find with Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, which doesn’t contain the letter “Z”), for centuries authors have grappled with much more challenging tasks—like writing stories without very common letters like “E” or “A” in them.

Some of the more notable lipograms are astonishing in their scope. The Greek poet Nestor of Laranda’s lipogramic adaptation of Homer’s Iliad was comprised of 24 books, just like the original, with each book omitting the subsequent Greek letter (thus the first book omitted the alpha character, the second omitted the beta character, and so on).

If you’re looking for an English language lipogram to dig into, Ernest Vincent Wright’s 1939 novel Gadsby includes over 50,000 words, but not a single letter “E”.

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