literature

Dictionary of the Khazars

The Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel was written by the Serbian novelist Milorad Pavic (1984). As the subtitle impies, the novel takes the form of a lexicon or encyclopedia; indeed, it comprises three parallel, cross-referenced lexicons, in each of which the entries are constructed from the point of view of one of the three religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

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).

Bouvard and Pécuchet

 Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard and Pecuchet (Bouvard et Pécuchet ): This satirical 1881 novel follows the adventures of two inept Parisian clerks who retire to the country to pursue knowledge. They stumble through one field after another, failing spectacularly at them all: agriculture, gardening, medecine, architecture, etc. Their almost insane pursuit of personal reinvention through a series of professional identities marks this as a precursor of fictive art 'impersonation' projects.

Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary: A satirical dictionary published in 1911 that lampoons commonplace notions. 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). Along with Gustave Flabert's Dictionary of Received Ideas (published around the same time), it has inspired a host of subsequent mock dictionaries.

Malley, Ern

Ern Malley was an Australian poet and artist, the joint creation of writers James McAuley and Harold Stewart. McAuley and Stewart created Malley as a hoax aimed at editor Max Harris and his Melbourne-based modernist literary magazine Angry Peguins, which they considered pretentious.

Tlön Uqbar Orbis Tertius

"Tlön Uqbar Orbis Tertius" is the title of a short story by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges that revolves around a rare (possibly unique) edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica containing an entry on an otherwise unknown country called Uqbar. As the story unfolds, it appears that Uqbar is part of a conspiracy of thinkers to create an entire new world, Tlön, by imagining it in all its details.

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