Misquoted

This picture below is one of my favorite quotes.  I have been a collector of quotes ever since the first time I saw that giving the right one to a student could lift them up and help them focus.  I think it has something to do with the fact that quotes can make a personal connection with a person from the past, who just might understand.

I have heard people criticize quote lovers as pseudo-intellectuals incapable of their own original thoughts.  Whatever.  I am a history teacher and we deal with the collective knowledge of the past.  In a pinch I like to offer it up.  It’s that simple

But one side effect of this hobby is that very often, more often than you would like to believe, the quotes are just wrong.  They are misquoted, paraphrased, taken out of context or attributed to the wrong people.  So a while back I started to check, really check, my favorites to see if they are accurate.  It can be an interesting process, but it can also be disheartening.

Image

It turns out that this quote isn’t by Nietzsche at all but rather by Rudyard Kipling. The idea is still the same.  I guess I am just disappointed because Nietzsche seems like exactly the rebellious bad ass to say such a thing.   The fact that Kipling said it makes it no less powerful.  http://www.johnradcliffe.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/textfiles/KJ162.txt  It just demonstrates the internet’s ability to amplify a mistake to levels almost in-correctable.  If you google search “Nietzsche Quote” this is one of the top returns.

Be careful.  Check your facts.

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1 Comment

March 30, 2012 · 2:51 am

One response to “Misquoted

  1. I’ve had similar experiences, Shawn. I wrote about one of them here:

    http://www.classroomtools.com/voltaire.htm

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