"Inside of a dog"

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 30 06:10:00 UTC 2010

YBQ has a version attributed to Groucho Marx in the Washington Post in
1989 and a slightly earlier attribution to Groucho in a Usenet posing
dated 1987 September 15.

A quick search in Google Books finds a match to a book with a 1978
copyright that attributes the joke to Groucho Marx. The wording is
slightly different and the book says the joke was used in a show in

Citation: 1978, The Art Museum as Educator edited by Barbara Y.
Newsom, Adele Z. Silver, Page 369, University of California Press.
(Google Books limited view)

"The Word Show," January through March 1974, was a cooperative venture
of the staff artists and the gallery's curator. The result was a wild
and educational exhibit based on the origin, form, peversity, and
delight of words. It was full of verbal and visual puns, jokes,
riddles, and images. For example, from Groucho Marx,
   Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend because
   inside of a dog is too dark to read.


Groucho died in 1977. I will look some more for a better citation when
I have some time, or another list member may do so.


On Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 12:04 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      "Inside of a dog"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I've always been fond of the apothegm in question--
> "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's
> too dark to read."
> that I assumed was indeed uttered/written by Groucho Marx.  There was
> always that question of whether "inside of a dog" is really truly
> possible, but on balance, it's still an immortal line.  Only maybe
> it's not Groucho's after all?
> I'm at the Seattle airport at the moment, where there doesn't seem to
> be a copy of Fred's YBOQ on hand, but what struck me is that a recent
> addition to the "Cognitive Science looks at canines" bookshelf,
> _Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know_ (by Alexandra
> Horowitz, Scribner, 2009) indicates that the eponymous epigraph is
> "attributed to Groucho Marx", which leads my Gricean antennae to
> infer a lack of success on Horowitz's part in pinning down an actual
> source. (Not that any of the amazon reviewers shy away from crediting
> Groucho for it.)
> Are there any definitive takes on this one?
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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