D#derogatevil in the details





Would like the origin of "the devil's in the
details"; its first use, not its meaning.

Many thanks,


Your guess is probably as good as anyone else's at this time -- but here are some clues...

Apparently Aby Warburg, an art historian, used the phrase ``Der liebe Gott steckt im Detail'' as the motto of a seminar series at Hamburg University in the fall of 1925.
Mies van der Rohe, who is often cited as the originator of the phrase "God is in the details", may have learned it from there. Although there are those who, without citing chapter and verse, suggest Flaubert and/or Nietzsche as the source(s).

The phrases "the Devil is in the details" and the German "Der Teufel steckt im Detail" follow naturally (no religious discussions please!)

If anyone has a German equivalent of Bartlett's lying around (Buechmann's "Gefluegelte Wörte"?) it would be worth a look.

Lewis Joplin II

DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS - The "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996) shows this phrase as a variation of "God is in the details - Whatever one does should be done thoroughly; details are important. The saying is generally attributed to Gustave Flaubert (1821-80), who is often quoted as saying, 'Le bon Dieu est dans le detail' (God is in the details). Other attributions include Michelangelo, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and the art historian Aby Warburg. 'The Devil is in the details' is a variant of the proverb, referring to a catch hidden in the details. 'Governing is in the details''and 'The truth, if it exists, is in the details' are recent variants.

Listed as an anonymous saying in the sixteenth edition of Barlett's 'Familiar Quotations,' edited by Justin Kaplan."

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