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Rated: ASR · Column · Satire · #1856954
My take on a clueless editor rejecting Roget's Thesaurus submission.

London, England

February 17,1851
Dear Dr. Roget:

Words fail me, as none seem adequate to describe my reaction to your recent submission, “Roget’s Thesaurus.” Your long-winded manuscript is (for want of a better word) boring, boring, boring!

It has been brought to my attention that “thesaurus” means “treasury.” My good fellow, you have obviously laboured over your so-called system of verbal classification, but this endless list of 15,000 words is certainly no one’s treasure. I attempted on several occasions to read it, to no avail. Upon my word, my wife found me snoring, face down in Section II!

Your lengthy thesaurus is not--what’s the word?-- sellable. What sort of person would be interested in, or would profit from, a book of word classifications? Certainly not our average customer. A recent list of our best-selling titles include, “The Development of Nitrous-Oxide -- No Laughing Matter,” and “A Head of Their Time? Phrenologists Follow Bumpy Road to Acceptance.”

To your credit, your publishing history is impressive. I read “Animal and Vegetable Physiology Considered with Reference to Natural Theology.” Now that would have been a good fit for Bland & Dull Publications, where our books make readers want to hang on every word.

I am told I am a man of few words, but I must say: should you remain determined to find a publisher for your book of lists, rewrite it in rhyme, add moral lessons, and illustrate the text with drawings of chubby children and small mammals. Then submit it as a primer for schoolchildren. But remember, fine words butter no parsnips. Before mailing your manuscript, take a pen and cross out at all unnecessary words.


Otis Dull, Assistant Editor

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