Cocteau Quote About Dictionaries

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 30 21:05:59 UTC 2013

Fred: The saying is in "The Cynic's Lexicon" (1984) by Jonathon Green,
himself, on page 49.

1889-1963 French man of letters

The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.
Le Potomak

Has it now been determined that the quotation is not in Le Potomak?

The saying is in two other references without supporting citations:
Barnes & Noble Book of Quotations: Revised and Enlarged (1987) edited
by Robert I. Fitzhenry,
Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (2008) edited by Ned Sherrin,


On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 4:41 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Cocteau Quote About Dictionaries
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Jonathon Green has asked me about a source for the following quotation, sai=
> d to be by Jean Cocteau with the context being a reference to Victor Hugo:
> "The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.'=
> ' (orig. 'Un chef-d'oeuvre de la litt=E9rature n'est jamais qu'un dictionna=
> ire en d=E9sordre').
> I'm not familiar with this line, although I like it a lot.  Can anyone help=
>  with tracking down the source?
> Fred Shapiro
> Editor
> YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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