something's IN THE DETAILS

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 2 18:52:51 UTC 1999

On Sun, 28 Nov 1999, Miller, Jerry wrote:

> Steve: I'm familiar with two different and opposing sayings (unfortunately,
> I don't really know the origins of either). "The Devil is in the details"
> I've heard quite often, but I've also heard (and used) "God hides in the
> details," which is quite useful in the teaching of writing, obviously. Where
> these originated I have no idea, but they are interesting in their
> opposition (or can both God and the Devil hide out in the same place?). Like
> you, I am curious as to their origins and how one presumably transformed
> into the other (and in which order) at some point in time.

According to Brewer's Quotations, "The architect's obituary in the New
York Times (1969) attributed this saying to Mies [van der Rohe] but it
also appears to have been a favourite of the German art historian Aby
Warburg (though E. M. Gombrich, his biographer, is not certain that it
originated with him).  In the form Le bon Dieu est dans le detail, it has
also been attributed to Gustave Flaubert (1821-80)."

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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