The doctor will see you now

L0004864 Cartoon: the family Doctor.

Having hung around a lot with doctors, Gert was very amused by this scene in Georges Perec’s  A Void:

At 8 a.m an important consultant starts doing his rounds, with a cohort of aspiring young doctors accompanying him, drinking in his words of wisdom, dutifully chuckling at his bons mots. This lofty individual would accost a visibly dying man and, airily tapping him on his arm, solicit from him a lugubrious smirk; would comfort anybody incurably ill with an amusing or consoling word; would charm a sick child with a lollipop and his fond mama with a toothy grin; and, confronting a handful of almost moribund invalids, would propound an instant diagnosis: malaria, Parkinson’s, bronchitis, a malignant tumour, a postnatal coma, syphilis, convulsions, palpitations and a torticollis. (10)

Georges Perec, tr.  Gilbert Adair, A Void (Vintage 2008)

Yes, this is the book written without using the letter e. Gilbert Adair has been fiendishly clever in doing the same for the English translation.

Image: Wikimedia Commons image L0004864 at

4 thoughts on “The doctor will see you now

  1. You’re right, I reread it all and there wasn’t a single “e”. That isn’t easy with the letter “e” being the most common letter in the language. So the void is the lack of the letter “e”?

    1. Especially in French. There’s a bit more to the void than that, but it’s very strange how having to avoid such a common letter sends the writer’s mind off in all sorts of weird and wonderful directions. We have a post coming up on Christian Bok, who wrote a whole series of poems that leave out one of the vowels, with the same effect.

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