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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.


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?