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Famous Quotes, Misquoted

By posted at 5:22 am on October 25, 2006 1

coverReuters writes up The Yale Book of Quotations

Showman P.T. Barnum never said “There’s a sucker born every minute” although he wished he had. And Civil War Admiral David Farragut probably never said “Damn the Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead” — words that have inspired generations of fighting men.

To make things even more complicated, it is doubtful that Paul Revere warned that “The British are coming” when he would have at the time of the American Revolution thought himself British, although a revolting one. He probably would have said “The Redcoats are coming.”

A new, meticulously researched book of quotations attempts to set the record straight on those beloved phrases that have crept into everyday use as signs of wisdom and wit, including Sigmund Freud’s sage advice that “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” (He didn’t quite say that, although his biographer thinks he would have approved of the idea.)

The Yale Book of Quotations has a simple thesis: famous quotes are often misquoted and misattributed. Sometimes they are never said at all but are, instead, little fictions that have forged their way into public consciousness.


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One Response to “Famous Quotes, Misquoted”

  1. Four Things Inspirational Quotes And Marketing Have In Common - Deliberate Ink | Deliberate Ink
    at 2:05 pm on May 11, 2012

    […] of The Sappy. Most of those motivating, inspiring, deep-thinking, worldview-simplifying quotes (or misquotes, depending on who you believe) are among The Sappiest, in my book. I have unfollowed every purveyor […]

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