Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Rediscovered this book on my shelves. A collection of platitudes which would as Flaubert described it be 'the historical glorification of everything generally approved.' It would he said, for instance, show that 'in literature, mediocrity, being within the reach of everyone, is alone legitimate and that consequently every kind of originality must be denounced as dangerous, ridiculous etc.' Funny guy but I tend run into this kind of thing all the time. For example when pretentiously smug dolts from grad school are spouting off at a nearby table while you are trying to eat your Korean spicy pork and refraining from using your chopsticks as weapons becomes almost impossible.. But I digress. This book also reminded me of Flaubert's Parrot, a wonderful book by Julian Barnes which if I recall was recommended to me back in college by El Duderino. (Go Huskies!) A French Flaubert site from Universite de Rouen here.
The Flaubert quotes are from an article by A.S. Byatt on Madame Bovary. (Part 1; Part 2)
Excerpts from the book:
ABSINTHE Extra violent poison: one glass and you're a dead man. Newspapermen drink it while writing their copy. Has killed more soldiers than the Bedouins.
ACHILLES Add 'fleet-footed': people will think you've read Homer.
BLONDES Hotter than brunettes. (See BRUNETTES.)
BRUNETTES Hotter than blondes. (See BLONDES.)
FIRING SQUAD Nobler than the guillotine. Delight of the man who is granted the favour of facing one.
IDEALISM The best of the philosophic systems.
IDEALS Perfectly useless.
IDIOTS Those who think differently from you.
PARIS The great whore. Heaven for women, hell for horses.
RABBIT PIE Always made of cat.
SPELLING Like mathematics. Not necessary if you have style.
WEALTH Substitute for everything, even reputation.
WOODS Induce reverie. Well suited for the composition of verse. In the autumn, when walking through them, say: 'There is a pleasure in the pathless woods.'
from Flaubert's Dictionary of Accepted Ideas