The web often attributes aphorisms or smart jokes to certain personalities – whether they are celebrities or scientists. However, are they really the authors of these sentences? Or do they belong to someone else? Let’s discover together 4 quotes from famous people, but which are actually attributed to the wrong people.
Quotes from Famous People: Woody Allen
“God is dead. Marx is dead. And I don’t feel so well myself“. The web attributes this amusing reflection on the end of ideologies to Woody Allen, who actually wrote a lot of aphorisms. But in this case it’s a mistake. The quote belongs instead to Eugene Ionesco, a famous Romanian playwright. He is one of the greatest exponents of the “theatre of the absurd”, where comedy and nonsense become the means with which to stage the anguish and madness of the human condition.
“Elementary, my dear Watson“. It sounds unbelievable, but it is true. Sherlock Holmes never said that phrase, and Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote it. However, The Adventure of the Crooked Man contains an exchange of jokes that may have spawned the legend. Watson, after hearing one of Holmes’ deductions, says: “Simple!”. And Holmes replies: “Elementary!”.
According to Sherlockian.net, the main authority on everything related to Sherlock Holmes, the phrase can be found rather in the humorous novel Psmith, Journalist by P.G. Wodehouse, published in 1915. Although the book doesn’t talk about Sherlock Holmes, Wodehouse “quotes” him by attributing him the line.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Attributed to Albert Einstein, the phrase was never actually pronounced by him. The original source is the American writer Rita Mae Brown and the quote appears in her book “Sudden Death” of 1983. “Unfortunately, Susan didn’t remember what Jane Fulton once said. ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’”
Einstein is also attributed another phrase, but there is no trace of it in his writings. “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live“.
Other Quotes from Famous People: Oscar Wilde
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken“. Yes, Oscar Wilde wrote a lot of memorable aphorisms – but not this one. Or rather, if he said it, he did it differently. In De Profundis, Wilde writes: “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation“. And he repeats this in an introduction to the book from 1882. “One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead“.