The Dictionary as Literature

As well as being a fascinating work in its own right, Gaspar Bouchard’s latest work, Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary: The Novel can be seen as an apotheosis of the post-antirealist movement. This book brings that movement’s characteristic antipathy to plot to a triumphant consummation. The dictionary, having no order other than the conventional order of the alphabet, is a perfect vehicle for re-imagination as literature, and Bouchard makes brilliant use of all the possibilities offered by the dictionary as a literary form.

By completely eschewing plot and structure, Bouchard is able to draw attention to many often overlooked features of the text. For instance, his presentation of the dictionary draws attention to the poignancy of the typeface, while highlighting the ironic nature of the extensive etymologies contained within his great work. He also effectively employs the juxtaposition of opposites: he uses the proximity of such words as ‘angel’ and ‘angioma’ to produce moving and sometimes hilarious climaxes of tumultuous emotion.

We recommend this work highly for readers between the ages of 20 and 21, and suggest that it be best enjoyed with a glass of pinot grigio while listening to Mozart’s Die Ihr des Unermeßlichen Weltalls Schöpfer ehrt.


Auerbach spine2,” by LA2. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Altered.


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