Alas, Shakespeare did not write "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well." The textually correct reading is: "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio." So why the change and why do we remember "well" instead of "Horatio?" Knowles provides an explanation for this misremembered quote and about 150 others in her enjoyable and informative collection of things not said or not quite said. The author also includes incorrect attributions and several apocryphal remarks that scholars have not been able to find in the works of their supposed originators. The selections range from the extremely common ("nice guys finish last," "let them eat cake") to the lesser known ("laws are like sausages," "he once shot a publisher"). Throughout, the tone is more casual than scholarly, more informative than authoritative. Knowles strikes a good balance between thoroughness and brevity when tracing the origins of these quotes and sayings. The entries are arranged in an A-Z format, with a simple alphabetical listing of the misquotations at the beginning and a name (author) index at the back. A helpful introduction offers keen observations on how misquotations tend to enter our collective consciousness. The book makes a good circulating volume and can also serve on the reference shelf.
Robert SaundersonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
What They Didn't Say: A Book of Misquotationsby Elizabeth Knowles
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Follow the money Fresh fields and pastures new A good day to bury bad news If the glove doesn't fit you must acquit Brings together a fascinating range of wrongly remembered sayings, popular summaries of original thoughts, and apocryphal or unverifiable comments attributed to a particular person. By revealing what was (and was not) really said, this book celebrates the colour and inventiveness of language change.
"Offers keen observations on how misquotations tend to enter our collective consciousness."School Library Journal
"The book is full of such interesting material."Daily Oklahoman
- OUP Oxford
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Meet the Author
Elizabeth Knowles is Publishing Manager for Oxford Quotations Dictionaries and is a historical lexicographer, having previously worked on the 4th edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. She is editor of the current 6th edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
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