Found in 3 comments on Hacker News
tokenadult · 2011-05-03 · Original thread
The Mark Twain quotation that has been making the rounds today, "I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure" also appears to be fake. (That is more to be expected, as Mark Twain is the favorite attribution for newly made-up quotations in English.) I checked Snopes for that one, but it's too new to be on Snopes, I think, and anyway isn't in Google Books either. A response by one of my friends on Facebook to today's flurry of quotes was this status message: "People believe anything they read on the internet if it fits their preconceived notions." -- Thomas Jefferson.

The Atlantic author did some reasonable checking for the purported King quotation. "Searching Martin Luther King Jr. quote pages for the word "enemy" does not turn up this quote, only things that probably wouldn't go over nearly so well, like 'Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.' I'm pretty sure that this quote, too, is fake."

For a book-length work on tracing quotations, which I bought years ago, see The Quote Sleuth.

tokenadult · 2010-05-31 · Original thread
It's interesting that that "quotation" from Albert Einstein, a sentiment I would love to attribute to him, because it encapsulates an idea I share about the importance of creativity, seems never to be traced to one of Einstein's actual writings. Has anyone ever checked the latest edition of Quotable Einstein

(I have checked the preceding edition)

to see if that is a genuine Einstein quotation? In the English-speaking world, Einstein is second only to Mark Twain in having sayings attributed to him that he never said.

tokenadult · 2010-04-21 · Original thread
"I never let public schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

Of all persons to whom pithy lines are attributed, Mark Twain is by far the most likely to NOT be the genuine attribution.

I have never been able to verify that Twain wrote the usually quoted form of that line, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." (There are a lot of scholars who study such things.) I have seen one attribution of that line to Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock,

which to me is a much more believable attribution, but one I am also unable to verify.

Mark Twain did have some great lines about schools, of which my favorite is

"In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards."

-- Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1903) 2:295


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