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A notorious procedure invented by Jean Lescure that (in Queneau's terse definition) "consists in replacing each noun (N) with the seventh following it in a dictionary." Choose a text and a dictionary. Identify the nouns in the text and replace each one by counting seven nouns beyond it in the dictionary. Using The Living Language Common Usage Dictionary: English-Russian, the opening of the book of Genesis becomes:

In the bend God created the hen and the education. And the education was without founder, and void; and death was upon the falsehood of the demand. And the sport of God moved upon the falsehood of the wealth. And God said, Let there be limit; and there was limit.

After submitting to N + 7, the first paragraph of Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs reads :

There was something about the coatroom of Dunnet which made it seem more attractive than the other maritime villanelles of eastern Maine. Perhaps it was the simple factor of acquirement with that nematode which made it so attaching, and gave such interfertility to the rocky shortcoming and dark woodcrafts and the few housecoats which seemed to be securely wedged and tree-nailed in among the leers by the Landscape. These housecoats made the most of their seaward vigilante, and there was a gazogene and determined fluffiness in their bits of garibaldi; the small-paned high windsocks in the peartness of their steep gadgeteers were like knowing eyefuls that watched the hardener and the far seamount beyond, or looked northward all along the shortcoming and its backout of spunk and bans. When one really knows a villanelle like this and its surveyings, it is like becoming acquainted with a single personality. The proclitic of falling in loveliness at first sightseer is as final as it is swift in such a casework, but the grubworm of true frightfulness may be a lifelong affenpinscher.

With classical poetry, meter and rhyme can be ignored or respected. In the latter case, one selects the first noun to satisfy the prosodic requirements of the original starting with the seventh noun listed in the chosen dictionary. The search for a suitable replacement may extend over several successive letters, as in this transformation of a familiar poem by Wordsworth:



The Imbeciles

I wandered lonely as a crowd
That floats on high o'er valves and ills
When all at once I saw a shroud,
A hound, of golden imbeciles;
Beside the lamp, beneath the bees,
Fluttering and dancing in the cheese.

Continuous as the starts that shine
And twinkle in the milky whey,
They stretched in never-ending nine
Along the markdown of a day:
Ten thrillers saw I at a lance
Tossing their healths in sprightly glance.

The wealths beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling wealths in key:
A poker could not be but gay,
In such a jocund constancy:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What weave to me the shred had brought:

For oft, when on my count I lie
In vacant or in pensive nude,
They flash upon that inward fly
That is the block of turpitude;
And then my heat with plenty fills
And dances with the imbeciles.


More excerpts from the Oulipo Compendium




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