Jump to content

Exercises in Style

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Exercises in Style
1947 hardback edition
AuthorRaymond Queneau
Original titleExercices de style
TranslatorBarbara Wright (English)
IllustratorMario Prassinos
GenreConstrained writing, Fiction
Publication date
Publication placeFrance
Published in English
Media typePrint

Exercises in Style (French: Exercices de style), written by Raymond Queneau, is a collection of 99 retellings of the same story, each in a different style. In each, the narrator gets on the "S" bus (now no. 84), witnesses an altercation between a man (a zazou) with a long neck and funny hat and another passenger, and then sees the same person two hours later at the Gare St-Lazare getting advice on adding a button to his overcoat. The literary variations recall the famous 33rd chapter of the 1512 rhetorical guide by Desiderius Erasmus, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style.


The book has been translated into the following languages:

Because, by their nature, the various retellings of the story employ fine subtleties of the French language, translations into these other languages are adaptations as well as being translations.

Styles employed[edit]

The English translation by Barbara Wright (reprinted in paperback in 1981) consists of the tale retold in the following 'styles', where the original has been adapted (rather than translated) the original title is given in italics following :-

Other adaptations[edit]

  • A book of drawings of a cup in 100 different manners, Homage a Queneau by Colin Crumplin, was published in 1977 by Anthony Stokes.
  • An homage in graphic novel form, 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style by Matt Madden, was published in 2005.
  • A typographic interpretation of the German version of Exercices de Style, "Stilübungen – visuelle Interpretationen" by the graphic designer Marcus Kraft, was published in 2006.
  • In Croatia (when it was part of SFR Yugoslavia), Tonko Maroević and Tomislav Radić adapted Exercices de Style (transferring the plot from the 1940s Paris to modern Zagreb) into a stage play for two actors, which has been played since 1968. Pero Kvrgić and Lela Margitić, who have been playing the only two roles since January 1970, hold a Guinness World Record for the Longest Theatrical Run with the Same Cast. They received a plaque in 2009.[2]
  • Inspired by Queneau's book, the first issue of uprightdown.com (2009) presented a single plot, which was retold in different forms and media by multiple participants.
  • Following the formal example of Queneau, Paul Hoover of the United States published Sonnet 56 (2009), which consists of 56 stylistic versions of Shakespeare's sonnet 56, including "Villanelle," "Qasida," "Course Description," and "Ballad."
  • Following the example of Queneau, Bethany M. Brownholtz published Exercises in Style: 21st Century Remix (2013), which consists of 40 additional versions, focusing on styles that have emerged over the last 60 years.
  • The same story was told in more than hundred new styles in Russian by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya, Sergey Fedin, Sergey Orlov and others [1] The styles includes combinatorial techniques, contemporary jargons and visuals poems.
  • The British writer Ross Sutherland used techniques adapted from Exercises in Style in the audio story Me Versus the Spar (Parts 1 to 7) on the Imaginary Advice podcast in 2018.
  • Turkish writer Ferit Edgü wrote a book titled "Yazmak Eylemi (The Act of Writing)" inspired by Queneau's book in 1980. Edgü tried to do similar style variations in Turkish language by playing with a news article about anarchists forcing local shop owners to close their shops for a whole day to demonstrate their power on the community.
  • The mathematician Philip Ording published his 99 Variations on a Proof (2019) of a cubic equation that offers solutions from various perspectives.
  • The computer scientist Cristina Videira Lopes (https://dl.acm.org/profile/81500647693) wrote a book titled "Exercises in Programming Style" Released November 2015, Publisher(s): Chapman and Hall/CRC,ISBN 9781498766739 From her department at UC Irvine: "In order to give programming styles the proper due, and inspired by Queneau, Lopes decided to embark on the project of writing the exact same computational task in as many styles as she has come across over the years. This project involves two artifacts: a collection of code examples currently hosted in github (https://github.com/crista/exercises-in-programming-style), and a textbook that explains 32 of those code examples line by line."[3]


  1. ^ Peter E. Bondanella, Andrea Ciccarelli The Cambridge companion to the Italian novel p.169
  2. ^ "Longest theatrical run - same cast". guinnessworldrecords.com. Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  3. ^ https://isr.uci.edu/content/exercises-programming-style>