This paper describes and comments on the lexicographical and ideological features of The Dictionary of Love, published in London in 1753. Although there is no lexicographer's name on the title-page, this peculiar dictionary was certainly compiled by John Cleland, the notorious author of the Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, who translated and adapted a French source—Le Dictionnaire d'Amour by Jean François Dreux du Radier, published at The Hague in 1741. After setting Cleland's compilation in its socio-cultural and lexicographical framework, and after comparing it with its French source, a taxonomy of dictionary entries is created in order to analyse Cleland's work as both a moralist and a lexicographer. What emerges is a bleak picture of the current relationships between the sexes, as well as Cleland's moral headshaking and biting social criticism. Although totally ignored in the historical surveys of English lexicography, The Dictionary of Love may be said to provide good evidence of the expanding variety of 18th-century dictionary-making and, arguably, of Cleland's move away from traditional lexicography as a closed masculine system in which author, reader and subject (or worldview) were male.
Selected Proceedings of the 2012 Symposium on New Approaches in English Historical Lexis (HEL-LEX 3)
edited by R. W. McConchie, Teo Juvonen, Mark Kaunisto, Minna Nevala, and Jukka Tyrkkö
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