Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quotations about quotations

Recently I've been reading some fascinating books on the history and genre of quotations (most notably: Quotology by Willis Goth Regier and The Words of Others by Gary Saul Morson). I've also spent hundreds of hours improving the accuracy and depth of my "Quotations about Quotations" page by tracing down original works for verification and culling a couple hundred new items not yet posted on any other website, both from the long-lost treasures on Google Books and from my own collection of dusty books. I am quite certain that I've accumulated over the past 26 years what is the world's largest collection of quotes about quotes. If not, it is certainly the most accessible large collection.

I found it exciting to learn that people have been taking delight in quotationsand struggling with misquotationfor centuries. Quotation anthologies have been around for ages, but according to Willis Goth Regier, "The watershed for compendia was in the mid-1850s." Imagine how much more abundant the watershedor how much earlierhad the internet been around back in the day!

While researching the origin and context of the quotations, I frequently got sidetracked reading antique gems of books and authors, stumbling upon some of the most amazing writing that is still sparkling and relevant up to this very day. I'd like to share one of my finds with you all. I was trying to locate the origin of this quote:

          "Shake was a dramatist of note;
          He lived by writing things to quote..."

Thanks to Google Books, I was able to determine the author as V. Hugo Dusenbury. The full poem was posted in the January 28th 1880 edition of Puck, and it is so awesome I resurrect it here 132 years later for your reading pleasure (click image to view full-size). The entire Puck periodical, in fact, was brimming with cleverness and I spent quite a happy time perusing it.

If you'd care to take a gander at the new and improved page of quotations about quotations, you can find it here: My most heartfelt gratitude goes out to all the ancient and modern persons who have pointed the way and left behind clues for where to focus my searches over the years which have led me to all these glorious "choice flowers, culled from the gardens of Poesy" (H.G. Adams).

"We who are quotatious are never truly alone, but always hear the cheerful flow of remarks made by dead writers so much more intelligent than we." ~Joseph Epstein, "Quotatious," A Line Out for a Walk: Familiar Essays, 1991, p.107

Update, November 2012:  Thanks to Garson O'Toole, The Quote Investigator, I've learned that V. Hugo Dusenbury was a pseudonym of  Henry Cuyler Bunner, the editor of Puck.