A collection of fatuous
s, poor joke
s, and popular prejudice
s to be uttered automatically by fashionable
people: a work conceived by Flaubert
as a pendant
to his incomplete novel Bouvard et Pécuchet
. The dictionary
exists only in fragmentary form; no doubt it was like Everything
and Flaubert noded cliche
s whenever he had the time or inclination.
Here are some appetizers.
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.
ACADEMY, FRENCH. Run it down but try to belong to it if you can.
ACCIDENT. Always "regrettable" or "unfortunate" (as if a mishap could ever be a cause for rejoicing).
ACHILLES. Add "fleet-footed": people will think you've read Homer.
ACTRESSES. The ruin of young men of good family. Are terribly lascivious, engage in orgies, run through fortunes, and end up in the workhouse. "I beg to differ: some make excellent mothers!"
ADMIRALS. Always brave. Their sole expletive: "Shiver my timbers!"
ADVERTISING. A source of wealth.
CHOLERA. You catch it by eating melons. You cure it by drinking a lot of tea with rum in it.
CHRISTIANITY. Freed the slaves.
CHRISTMAS. Wouldn't be Christmas without the pudding.
CIDER. Spoils the teeth.
CIGARS. Those sold under government monopoly are always abominable. The only good ones are smuggled in.
CIRCUS TRAINERS. Use obscene practices.
CITY FATHERS. Thunder against them apropos the paving of streets: "What can our city fathers be thinking of!"
CLARINET. Playing it causes blindness: all blind men play the clarinet.
You get the idea.