A review, and links to other information about and reviews of Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish. Walter Abish has dovetailed his novel within a Procrustean scheme that has the terrifying and irrefutable logic of the alphabet. Alphabetical. Alphabetical Africa kept cropping up again and again, so here it is. In this novel, as you can probably tell from the first line quoted above, there.

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Alphabetical Africa – Walter Abish – Google Books

For reasons I don’t quite understand, the most interesting chapters are the ones where he’s more restricted, versus the ones where he gives himself more freedom. I can’t recommend it uneq In retrospect, a gimmick, but an enjoyable and surprisingly readable one.

Then the letters disappear waltfr For the longest time, I didn’t even notice it. He is pining for his love, Alva.

That’s why I’m giving this a 3. I’ll try to be brief: Nov 07, MJ Nicholls marked it as steven-moore-sez. Newer Post Older Post Home. Unlike a regular book, namely Conrad’s, it is a master piece in terms of cultural narratology.

In the latter half of the book, the letters of each chapter correspond with the last time words beginning with that letter can be used. There are conflicts galore in this Africa. It is fascinating to watch a wildly all-over-the-place author struggle with his own self-imposed and rather stringent restrictions. So, with all these sentences, I believe it did take the author quite sometime to compose this oeuvre. F irst few chapters are a bit constrained, as expected. There are also, inevitably, linguistic concerns African click languages, mixed vocabularies, dictionaries of African words, the writing of history.

A confused conceptual novel set in guess what continent? First of all, there isn’t much of a constraint after the chapter H — as soon as he is allowed to use the wo Walter Abish is not, and has never been, a member of Oulipoyet he made his debut as a novelist with this Oulipo-like work.


At least it is meant to be, but all sorts of other things come up as well while Alva proves particularly difficult to pin down. What struck me was how quickly, as the book opened up to using a wider vocabulary, the language felt natural.

alphabettical Do they find it ma I thought this was fantastic. There should be a strong connection between story and constraints: H ard earned alphabets birth fresh characters ‘I’ finally enables chronicler’s appearance as a character himself.

Anyhow, all concur America’s angst cannot corrupt Chadians,” p. Retrieved from ” https: Gifted Grosseres Germany consumes energy and guarantees greatness, get going, grow another Goethe, great guy, claims Gustaf, as all Grundit gramophones in Gabon, gently croon: Ages ago an archaeologist, Albert, alias Arthur, ably attended an archaic African armchair affair at Antibes, attracting attention as an archaeologist and atheist.

Paperbackpages. Second, I agree alpahbetical the plot is occasionally amusing, but wouldn’t say it is particularly engaging or inventive, and IMO using the Swahili dictionary in the way that it is used in the story is more of a cheap trick. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Aug 13, Hal Johnson rated it liked it Shelves: Jun 01, Trisha rated it did not like it. Fifty degrees in the winter feels remarkably warm at least where I spend my wintersbut the same temperature in the summer would be uncomfortably cold.

A reader watches the first letters of many words, and also attends to the stories. Join other followers. Germany grows greater while Gabon grows food to feed it in the hopes that Germany will produce another mind as great at Goethe was.

To see what your friends thought of africca book, please sign up. Alphabetical AfricaWalter Abish’s delightful first novel, is an extraordinary linguistic tour de force, high comedy set in an imaginary dark continent that expands and contracts with ineluctable precision, as one by one the author adds the letters of the alphabet to his book, and then subtracts them.


Most counts of these violations number them between four and six; however, up to 43 have been noted by astute readers. But midway through the book, as he gets access to more and more letters, you stop paying attention to the constraints and just ride the abiish, jagged, somewhat comical prose. To ask other readers questions about Alphabetical Africaplease sign up. In the end, it seemed to me that this is a lighthearted spoof about American attitudes to Africa in the s, placed, for reasons I think the alphanetical himself never entirely analyzed, into the “terrifying and irrefutable” Procrustean frame of a linguistic game.

There are points in Alphabetical Africa where this language game works brilliantly well.

Alphabetical Africa

His linguistic constraints are “terrifying and irrefutable,” as Ashbery says chapters from A to Z and back to A, each one containing only a subset of letters of the alphabetbut th How Form and Content Can Be Connected This book isn’t simply “in the line of writers such as Raymond Roussel, Raymond Queneau, Georges Perec and Harry Mathews,” as Ashbery says in the back cover copy.

One point of dispute is whether the failures to meet the constraint are intentional, and therefore potentially meaningful, or are simply editing mistakes.

I enjoyed this a great deal. S hrinking African landscape is mirrored in shrinking language and shrinking populace. This site uses cookies. Another abbreviation another abdomen another abduction another aberration another abhorrent ass another abnormal act another aboriginal another approach another absence The final chapter, the return to only words starting with A, is a knockout.