Here’s What Moby-Dick Looks Like Without Words

Words may be the building blocks of novels, but punctuation is the mortar that keeps them together. And punctuation can be beautiful, too – even on its own, as one artist is proving.

According to Wired, artist Nicholas Rougeux is putting punctuation at center stage by stripping classic novels of all of their words. With just punctuation marks and chapter headings, Rougeux is left with an abstract sequence of symbols, which he then spins into marvelous pinwheels. The punctuation in Rougeux’s work spirals inward to meet a classic illustration representing the work.

The images that Rougeux has put together are beautiful, but also informative. Each gives us a look at the kind of punctuation marks that authors use most. It’s interesting to see how some punctuation marks are used more often in different eras or different types of books.

We’ve included a few of our favorites below, including zoomed-in versions that show the details of the works. You can check out the full gallery and purchase prints over at Rougeux’s website!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:


Moby-Dick by Herman Melville:


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain:

All images: Nicholas Rougeux