Friday, 16 January 2015

churchillian drift

Mental Floss disabuses us of some of our favourite misattributed or completely made up great quotations with a studied collection of sayings that go rather deeply into the origins of those things we wish our heroes had said. One of the best stories is about how Abraham Lincoln supposedly proclaimed that “When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.”
This wise if not somewhat Pollyanna-ish line comes to us not from the great statesman but rather via the marketing geniuses at Disney studios, producing a film version of the book Pollyanna, whence at the treacly and campy conclusion, the little heroine opens the locket of her dead father to discover this inscription. The Disney Brothers love it and had hundreds of souvenir lockets commissioned and sold at gift shops. When the writer-director who’d made up the quotation discovered this misattribution spread, to his great dismay, the studio had the unsold trinkets recalled. Also Freud never said “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” and was doctrinairely against the idea of suggesting otherwise.  What are your favourite supposed pithy quotes that turned out to be fictions?