The Good Citizen’s Alphabet

During my travels this month around Europe I have been on the lookout for a cool bookstore to find something to read while on the plane and waiting in the airports.  I finally find what I was looking for in the tiny town of Hilversum, Netherlands, outside of Amsterdam after Quartet West rehearsed with the Metropole Orkestra.  

I’m not even sure of the name of the bookstore, but everything about it was perfect.  The man inside showed me around and I stumbled up two great books.  The first is called “Report (Not Announcement)” about the art world, living and working in a world that is not always conducive to art by forty-four artists from their personal perspectives.  The second is called “The Good Citizens Alphabet” by Bertrand Russell.  

“The Good Citizens Alphabet” was first publish by Gaberbocchus Press on April 1, 1953, almost 57 years to the day that I found the book in Hilversum.  The writing is accompanied by amazing illustrations by Franciszka Themerson which I cannot include in the blog due to my lack of a scanner and the fact that you should buy a copy because the pairing of the phrases and illustrations are incredible.  Below, I have written out all of the letters, their corresponding words, and phrases, as well as a photo of the bookstore.  (You can buy a copy here on Amazon.)

I hope you enjoy.


A – Asinine – What you think.

B – Bolshevik – Anyone whose opinions I disagree with.

C – Christian – Contrary to the Gospels.

D – Diabolic – Liable to diminish the income of the rich.

E – Erroneous – Capable of being proved true.

F – Foolish – Disliked by the police.

G – Greedy – Wanting something I have and you haven’t.

H – Holy – Maintained by fools for centuries.  see: Ignorant

I – Ignorant  – Not holy.

J – Jolly – The downfall of our enemies.

K – Knowledge – What Archbishops do not doubt.

L – Liberty – The right to obey the police.

M – Mystery – What I understand and you don’t.

N – Nincompoop – A person who serves mankind in ways for which they are not grateful.

O – Objective – A delusion which other lunatics share.

P – Pedant – A man who likes his statements to be true.  

Q – Queer – Basing opinions on evidence.

R – Rational – Not basing opinions on evidence.

S – Sacrifice – Accepting the burdens of a great position.

T – True – What passes the examiners.

U – Unfair – Advantageous to the other party.

V – Virtue – Submission to the government

W – Wisdom – The opinions of our ancestors.

X – Xenophobia – The Andorran opinion that the inhabitants of Andorra are the best.

Y – Youth – What happens to the old when in movement.

Z – Zeal – See stool pigeon.

Hilversum Bookstore - March 31, 2010

Inside the Hilversum Bookstore

The Good Citizen's Alphabet


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