Quotes Uncovered: Why Don't You Go Find Your Own Quotes?

Quotes Uncovered

75 ThumbnailHere are more quote authors and origins Shapiro’s tracked down recently.

Eleven weeks ago, I invited readers to submit quotations for which they wanted me to try to trace the origins, using The Yale Book of Quotations and more recent research by me. Hundreds of people have responded via comments or e-mails. I am responding as best I can, a few per week.

Charlotte asked:

Why do people keep asking about quotes which they could easily find at the local library or bookstore, [or] in The Yale Book of Quotations?

This is easily the most penetrating question so far. I really have no good answer for it.

Carin
asked:

I’m not sure of the exact quote, but it goes something like this: “The battles in academia are so vicious because the stakes are so low.”

The Yale Book of Quotations has this as follows:

“Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.” Wallace S. Sayre (U.S. political scientist, 1905-1972), quoted in The Wall Street Journal, 20 Dec. 1973. Political scientist Herbert Kaufman has attested to the editor of this book that Sayre usually stated this as “The politics of the university are so intense because the stakes are so low,” and that Sayre originated the quip by the early 1950’s.

Marcie asked:

What about the “ancient Chinese curse” that says “May you live in interesting times.” I thought I’d read somewhere more recently that it is neither ancient nor Chinese.

The Yale Book of Quotations cites the earliest occurrence found for this from the American Society of International Law Proceedings in 1939, noting that “no authentic Chinese saying to this effect has ever been found.” Early printed English-language versions do, however, refer to it as an old Chinese curse.

Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?


Eric M. Jones

I get this terrible sense of déja vu.

You still haven't offered any authorative source for my:

"Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Oh wait...! I get it, I am insane for posting the same quote over and over and expecting any result! Clever...

- Eric M. Jones

Jeffrey

Easy answer to Charlotte's question: we're curious, but we don't care so much that it's burning in our minds enough to make a trip to the library or bookstore.

Miguel

Eric, I think I saw your quote on a Dilbert comic strip, although he probably was quoting someone else.

By the way, a have a quote of my own to ask for a source (I don't remember the exact wording): "The IQ of a group (or committee) is limited to the IQ of its dumbest member."

Lindsay

I've heard the quote, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture," attributed to at least two different musicians: Frank Zappa and Elvis Costello. Any idea if either or neither of these rockers said it first?

HW

"A witty saying proves nothing," is really the only necessary quote.

andy

"Put all of your eggs in one basket, and watch that bakset"

I have heard mark twain and andrew carnegie.

bh

#4 Lindsay- that's Steve Martin

Sean Samis

We ask about quotes we could find at the library or other sources because we're HERE and not at the library. We ask here because reading this blog prompted us to wonder and, well, why not just ask?

No harm, no foul.

B Hansen

Took Charlotte's advice and did some of my own research. The closest that I came up with (without the help of the Yale volume) for "the best way to learn about any topic is to write a book about it" is this:

"Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book."
-Edward Gibbon

Catharine

I'd still really love to have you trace "cave early and often, grovel if necessary"...I've tried googling it and looking it up and found nothing. My gut tells me it's Dale Carnegie...but I really have no clue.

Peggy

In response to Charlotte's question: By posting the quotation here, one not only gets someone else to do the work, but also -- and in my mind more importantly -- gets to put his own favorite line in front of a bunch of other people who are interested in clever quotations.

D Won

I think it was Vince Lombardi who said,
"Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing"

But I've read from somewhere that it was actually originated from another source. Anyone know who?

toasterhead

What about the "ancient Chinese curse" that says "May you live in interesting times." I thought I'd read somewhere more recently that it is neither ancient nor Chinese.
___________

Of course not - it's Agatean, not Chinese. You can find its origins on the Counterweight Continent.

Rendell de Kort

New chinese curse: May you study economics in intresting times

Rob

"Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low." Wallace S. Sayre (U.S. political scientist, 1905-1972), quoted in The Wall Street Journal, 20 Dec. 1973."

So he was quoted a year after his death? newspapers moved slow before the internet

Edward

"May you live in interesting times."
Bizarrely, I've seen this attributed to an early Christian blessing. I consider this bizarre because this was in a letter from a member of the clergy who was busily splitting his church.

Science minded

Dear Jones;

I guess anyone who would do the same thing over and over must be extravagant or fanciful.

I take that to be a complement. Thanks. as to the source of such an idea-- Wasn't it someone by the name of Jones--sorta reminds me of an uncle of mine- married 5 times.... all the same woman --just looked different.

Science minded

i.e., by source I mean- someone offering an explanation for creative behavior-- of people we call schizophrenic--or workaholics. i.e., endowed with "the spirit of Capitalism."

So then the source must be Max Weber.

So that makes me the discoverer of the source- And Jones the discoverer of me.

dp

Eric #1: the quote about insanity has been widely attributed to Albert Einstein. It does sound like something he would say.

Charlotte

The addition of "or" to my quote was inaccurate, but, I'll admit, more grammatically correct. I suppose I should have phrased it as:

Why do people keep asking about quotes which they could easily find in The Yale Book of Quotations at the local library or bookstore?