Eunoia by Christian Bok

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The word ‘eunoia,’ which literally means ‘beautiful thinking,’ is the shortest word in English that contains all five vowels. Directly inspired by the Oulipo (l’Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle), a French writers’ group interested in experimenting with different forms of literary constraint, Eunoia is a five-chapter book in which each chapter is a univocal lipogram – the first chapter has A as its only vowel, the second chapter E, etc. Each vowel takes on a distinct personality: the I is egotistical and romantic, the O jocular and obscene, the E elegiac and epic (including a retelling of the Iliad!).

Stunning in its implications and masterful in its execution, Eunoia has developed a cult following, garnering extensive praise and winning the Griffin Poetry Prize. The original edition was never released in the U.S., but it has already been a bestseller in Canada and the U.K. (published by Canongate Books), where it was listed as one of the Times’ top ten books of 2008.

This edition features several new but related poems by Christian Bök and an expanded afterword.


About Christian Bok

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Christian Bök is the author of Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994), a 'pataphysical encyclopedia' nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award for Best Poetic Debut, and Pataphysics: The Poetics of an Imaginary Science (Northwestern University Press, 2001). His book Eunoia won the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize and is the best-selling Canadian poetry book of all time. Bök has created artificial languages for Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict and Peter Benchley's Amazon. His conceptual artwork has appeared at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York City as part of the exhibit Poetry Plastique. He currently teaches at the University of Calgary.
Published October 14, 2005 by Coach House Books. 120 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Eunoia

The Telegraph

The great Georges Perec wasn’t the first person to write a novel without using the letter “e” – as far as anyone knows, that was Ernest Vincent Wright, with the little-read Gadsby (1939) – but he was the first to do it with any artistic purpose or success.

Dec 22 2008 | Read Full Review of Eunoia

Suite 101

Christian Bok's clever book, which uses just one vowel in each chapter, has finally been published in the UK.

Dec 29 2008 | Read Full Review of Eunoia

Boston Review

Written over seven years—the same period of time it took Joyce to write Ulysses—"Eunoia" is a "universal lipogram," in that it restricts itself to the use of only one vowel per chapter: the "a" chapter can only use words like "banana" and "and," the "u" cha...

Jul 27 2017 | Read Full Review of Eunoia

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