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The Dictionary of Accepted Ideas Paperback – December 1, 1954

ISBN-13: 978-0811200547 ISBN-10: 081120054X Edition: Revised

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The Dictionary of Accepted Ideas + The Dictionary of Received Ideas (Oneworld Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation; Revised edition (December 1, 1954)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081120054X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811200547
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,662,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), the younger son of a provincial doctor, briefly studied law before devoting himself to writing, with limited success during his lifetime. After the publication of Madame Bovary in 1857, he was prosecuted for offending public morals.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By S. Dougherty on February 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
"ARTISTS. All charlatans. Boast of their disinterestedness (old-fashioned). Express astonishment that they dress like everybody else (old-fashioned). They earn insane amounts, but fritter it all away. Often asked to dine out. A woman artist cannot be anything but a whore."
Flaubert's satirical reference work, the Dictionnaire des Idées Reçues, reveals in a marvellously condensed form the writer's attitude toward the French bourgeois society in which he was brought up. It is a sort of guidebook to19th-century crassness, triteness, pomposity, and irrationalism decked out to look like reason. Clearly Flaubert regarded his own social class with a mixture of detestation, boredom, and intense fascination. He found both comic and tragic possibilities in this cultural stratum, which he mined relentlessly for the realistic details of his novels Madame Bovary, L'éducation sentimentale, and Bouvard et Pécuchet.
In the early 1850s (while at work on Madame Bovary) Flaubert referred in several letters to his "sottisier," a compendium of trite opinions, of the ideas that "ferment in the brains of the brainless." Flaubert never published his dictionary, although in a letter to his mistress, Louise Colet, he hinted that he intended to do so eventually. Topical dictionaries and digests of knowledge were popular in France, especially among the upwardly mobile, who may have fancied that posession of snippets of miscellaneous information conferred a patina of erudition, and made one's dinner-party conversation more sparkling.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Yaumo Gaucho on May 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Like any master of parody, Flaubert doesn't go completely overboard with this satire of the "...For Dummies" books of his day. If we know a bit about Flaubert, we know that his "definitions" in the book are tongue in cheek, but it's actually possible that a member of the French upper middle class in Flaubert's time would have picked this up and thought it a good handy reference book. Priceless, just priceless.
This is great humor, and the accepted ideas it mocks are actually remarkably similar to the accepted ideas of our own time. Flaubert has a way of stating these "facts" that holds them up to the light of his brilliant ridicule. Because a dictionary can contain pretty much anything, Flaubert uses this as a platform to discuss views on art, politics, philosophy, food, animals, and just about everything else. Don't expect, however, to read this and just take its opposite in order to understand Flaubert's mind -- sometimes there is double irony here, and the author is himself ambivalent about the proper "definitions" of the words he lists.
Overall, this is a genuinely funny read, and a useful insight into the petty bourgeois society (similar to our own) Flaubert loved to mock.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are other and better translations of this coda to BOUVARD ET PECUCHET, but the reason to buy it is the introduction by Jacques Barzun, a brilliant comment on Flaubert's perverse swan song.

"Perverse" in the sense that when you think of what Flaubert might have written instead, you can't help feeling he's the ancestor of James Joyce, wasting his life on PUNNIGAN'S WAKE, when he might have written a great realistic novel to equal the yarns in DUBLINERS.

Flaubert read hundreds of volumes in preparation for BOUVARD. I guess when he said the backgrounds of his books were real and the foregrounds imaginary he was stating an iron-clad self-imposed, alas "perverse" rule.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
. . . which is at fault here. Unquestionably, this book falls flat, and I cannot recommend it to anyone. It seems pointless and very unfunny
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Flaubert is not generally someone you may associate with being a laugh, but The Dictionary of Accepted Ideas is hilarious. For decades now, it has been my secret weapon, as I held onto my worn out copy of a used bookstore edition I had. Only a few knew it existed, and only the elect knew what it was, and we would quote from it and share the joy between ourselves. (I knew it as the Dictionary of Received Opinion, which might capture the English contents a bit better.)

New Directions paperbacks are always worth our time, as they have superior translation and presentation, and this is no exception. No less a figure than Jacques Barzun (author of A Jacques Barzun Reader: Selections from His Works (Perennial Classics) and many, many important works) translates and, more importantly, offers context for the entries. Flaubert collected overheard statements throughout his life -- snippets from other tables in the cafe that seemed outrageous -- and the collection was put together after his death. From "hatred of the bourgeoisie is the beginning of wisdom" to "deicide: to be railed against, despite the infrequency of the crime," there are incisive, absurd, and still challenging entries on every page.
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