one hundred thousand billion poems

there aren’t many things that i find appealing about celebrating my birthday, but this beautiful book which my mother-in-law gave me this weekend is a pretty good start, as the title of this post suggests, it is a rather special book, written as a series of inter-changeable sonnets by writer ‘raymond queneau’ better known for his ‘exercises de style’ book

i quote from wikipedia:
… Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes is inspired by children’s picture books in which each page is cut into horizontal strips which can be turned independently, allowing different pictures (usually of people) to be combined in many ways. Queneau applies this technique to poetry: the book contains 10 sonnets, each on a page. Each page is split into 14 strips, one for each line. The author estimates in the introductory explanation that it would take approximately 200 million years to read all possible combinations…

the book has been reissued recently with a fascinating technique whereby the pages are divided/die cut into long strips (the whole thing has been produced on high quality thick stock to very exacting standards) queneau, as i discovered this afternoon, was part of a writer’s collective called ouilpo, which operated under very particular rules (a bit like the ‘dogma’ filmmakers) this book is one of the results of their endeavours, another is the lipogram which i am definitely going to look into… starting with george perec’s novel ‘a void’ written entirely without the letter ‘e’

m / 28-02-2010 22:06


  1. […] also my previous (and related) post on queneau, tip via ‘maarten@VBAT’ many thanks… m / 15-11-2010 18:55 – tags: books, […]

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  3. […] (Figure 1) Queneau, R. (1961). ‘One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems’, [Photograph]. Retrieved from: […]

    pingback by Design & Culture #39 | Animation and Motion Graphics by Chermagne Barnachea — 29-04-2014

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