Hundred Thousand Billion Poems


Hundred Thousand Billion Poems

Raymond Queneau’s "Hundred Thousand Billion Poems" or "One hundred million million poems" (original French title: "Cent mille milliards de poèmes"), published in 1961, is a set of ten sonnets. They are printed on card with each line on a separated strip, like a heads-bodies-and-legs bookclarify-inline. As all ten sonnets have not just the same rhyme scheme but the same rhyme sounds, any lines from a sonnet can be combined with any from the nine others, so that there are 1014 (= 100,000,000,000,000) different poems. It would take some 200,000,000 years to read them all, even reading twenty-four hours a day. When Queneau ran into trouble while writing the poem(s), he solicited the help of mathematician Francois Le Lionnais, and in the process they initiated Oulipo. [http://www.spinelessbooks.com/20/essays/oulipo.html]

Two full translations into English have been published, those by John Crombie and [http://x42.com/active/queneau.html Stanley Chapman] . There is also a full translation on the internet by [http://www.bevrowe.info/poems/queneauhome.htm Beverley Charles Rowe] that uses the same rhyme sounds.

In 1984 Edition Zweitausendeins in Frankfurt a.M. published a German translation by Ludwig Harig.

In 1997, a French court decision outlawed the publication of the original poem on the Internet, citing the Queneau estate and Gallimard publishing house's exclusive moral right. Luce Libera, [http://multitudes.samizdat.net/spip.php?article169 12 268 millions de poèmes et quelques... De l’immoralité des droits moraux] , "Multitudes" n°5, May 2001 fr icon] .

References

See also

*Copyright law in France

External links

* [http://www.bevrowe.info/Poems/QueneauRandom.htm An interactive version, web based, in English and French]
* [http://www.growndodo.com/wordplay/oulipo/10%5e14sonnets.html An interactive version, generating the sonnets, in French]
* [http://alas.matf.bg.ac.yu/~mr03174/bastilja/sonetist.html A similar attempt in Serbian, by Dušan Vasić (not a translation)]


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