Dictionary of Received Ideas

Gustave Flaubert, The Dictionary of Received Ideas (Le Dictionnaire des Idées Reçues): Flaubert created this short dictionary of platitudes and silly ideas in the 1870s, but it was not published for another forty years. Both a spoof of the idea of dictionaries and encyclopedias as compendia of useful or important information, and an actual dictionary of sorts, it is a precursor of later fictive art projects involving encyclopedias (e.g. the Codex Seraphinianus). Flaubert noted that it would be important for the reader not to know if his leg was being pulled, and wrote that "after reading the book, one would be afraid to talk, for fear of using on of the phrases in it." This desire to have it succeed in the real world--as a kind of social experiment, invisible to its targets--is another element linking it to many fictive art projects. Along with Ambrose Bierce's famed Devil's Dictionary (published around the same time), it has inspired a host of subsequent mock dictionaries. (Source of quote: Wikipedia)