Exercises in Style

By Raymond Queneau

Translated by Barbara Wright

ISBN: 9781847492418

128 pages

RRP: £7.99 £6.39

On a crowded bus at midday, the narrator observes one man accusing another of jostling him deliberately. When a seat is vacated, the first man takes it. Later, in another part of town, the man is spotted again, while being advised by a friend to have another button sewn onto his overcoat.

Exercises in Style retells this apparently unremarkable tale ninety-nine times, employing a variety of styles, ranging from sonnet to cockney to mathematical formula. Too funny to be merely a pedantic thesis, this virtuoso set of themes and variations is a linguistic rustremover, a guide to literary forms and a demonstration of imagery and inventiveness.


SKU: 9781847492418 Category: Tags: , ,


  • A pointless anecdote told in 99 different ways, or a work of genius in a brilliant translation by Barbara Wright. In fact it’s both. Endlessly fascinating and very funny.

    Philip Pullman

  • Witty, playful, ingenious, it manages to transcend its own sophistication by a sort of verbal slapstick which Miss Wright translated into pure Groucho Marxism.

    The Guardian

  • I’ve loved Exercises in Style for years. This translation is impeccable, extraordinary.

    Philip Pullman

  • Midway between Lewis Carroll and Jacques Derrida, in a deliriously witty dimension of its own, lies Queneau's Exercises in Style … Barbara Wright's dazzling translation matches this oddball classic step by step, pun by pun.

    The Independent

Raymond Queneau

Raymond Queneau (1903–76) was a poet, novelist, editor, scholar and mathematician. He is best remembered for Exercises in Style and Zazie in the Metro.