A lipogram (from Ancient Greek: λειπογράμματος, leipográmmatos, “leaving out a letter”) is a kind of constrained writing or word game consisting of writing paragraphs or longer works in which a particular letter or group of letters is avoided — usually a common vowel, and frequently “E”, the most common letter in the English language.
Writing a lipogram is a trivial task for uncommon letters like “Z”, “J”, “Q”, or “X”, but it is much more difficult for common letters like “E”, “T” or “A”. Writing this way, the author must omit many ordinary words. Grammatically meaningful and smooth-flowing lipograms can be difficult to compose.
A pangrammatic lipogram or lipogrammatic pangram is a text that uses every letter of the alphabet except one, e.g. “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”, which omits “S.”
After Perec’s work, many other authors have taken to write under these (or even stronger) constraints. To cite some examples:
In Walter Abish’s novel ,,Alphabetical Africa,,(1974) the first chapter consists solely of words beginning with “A”. Chapter two also permits words beginning with “B” and so on, until at chapter 26, Abish allows himself to use words beginning with any letter at all. For the next 25 chapters, he reverses the process.
Gyles Brandreth re-wrote some of Shakespeare’s works as lipograms: ,,Hamlet,, without the letter “I” (e.g., “To be or not to be, that’s the query”); ,,Macbeth,, without “A” or “E”; ,,Twelfth Night,, without “O” or “L”; Othello without “O”. In 1985 he also wrote the following poem, where each stanza is a lipogrammatic pangram (using every letter of the alphabet except “E”).