In Only Revolutions, Danielewski uses certain constraints repeatedly.

He creates compound words out of words that are not normally combined, such as sunnysurrounded, continentaldrift, and fastsnazzy.

The story uses rhyming words, generally in quick succession. The rhymes come not in pairs of words, but one after the other. The rhymes come in short sentences, emphasizing that the multiple rhymes are very deliberate.

In terms of format, in each passage the lines are not all aligned in the same way, but are moved to the left and right.

-Kevin O’Leary


~ by k2theiso on February 22, 2011.

One Response to “Constraints”

  1. Kevin’s first constraint, making compound words out of word pairs, may not be a true constraint but rather the breaking of a traditional constraint: using words as they are usually set in English dictionaries. Kevin’s description of this use of “invented” words is lacking because it does not say why this technique is used. I’m not sure of the answer to this myself, since while continentaldrift is the combination of two words that are often used together, fastsnazzy and sunnysurrounded are not. If there was a clear rule on when Danielewski combined words, than I think this would be a true constraint.

    I believe the second constraint of rhyming words is a true constraint, though it is not used throughout the entire book but only in some short sections. I would like to know why Danielewski decides to use these rhymes only sometimes. Perhaps he is trying to break the traditional constraint that poetry and prose should be kept separate in literature.

    The final, formatting constraint points out the different alignment of words that Danielewski uses. This again is not well explained, what is the purpose of this formatting? Is it haphazard or well planned?

    Perhaps one way to explain all of the techniques Kevin points out would be to say that Danielewski uses it to show another meaning of the word “revolution”. A revolution of the literary form, as well as speaking of political revolutions and circular revolutions.

    After checking the prior posts, I don’t believe any of the constraints Kevin mentioned have been written about before.

    -Diana Huang

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