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Friday, March 28, 2014

Oulipo George Washington

Oulipo is a group of French writers (from the first letters of Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, "workshop of potential literature"), founded in the sixties, who use structural writing constraints to create their work.  The constraints used are often mathematical - for instance, in a poem written using the "snowball" technique, the first line is one word long, the second line has two words, and so on.

But wait, here is a presidential biography for children from 1893, far ahead of its time:

Life of George Washington in Words of One Syllable.

George is depicted on the cover standing in a very small boat with a couple other guys standing also, wearing funny hats and crossing some river full of very large chunks of ice.  
 First interior color plate shows a young pansy with a frilly neck-tie, axe at feet, a skinny tree half cut to his left, being scolded by a large man dressed in tights with a bow in his hair hiding a riding crop from boy's view. 
Almost the entire book is written in one syllable words; when they are more they are hy-phen-ate-ed, so you can learn the lies and whitewashed untruths of our beleagured nation one quarter word at a time.  

Nice cigarette burn on cover as mom refreshed her martini putting little Tommy to bed.  Cursive inscription inside front cover "... from Grammer, Sept. 1974."  Apparently the world was bathed in innocence at this time.

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