Friday, January 11, 2008

anonymous was a witty guy

It is a truth universally acknowledged that no really good quip can go unattributed. Any witty or wise quote with staying power must be tied to some great wit, usually dead, usually Winston Churchill or Oscar Wilde. Sometimes Dorothy Parker benefits from this phenomenon: for a long time, I assumed she was the one who said, "Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker." (It was Ogden Nash.) What are the odds I'm the only one?

I just learned that that famous flip line about politics, "Anyone who is under 40 and a Conservative has no heart; anyone who is over 40 and a Liberal has no brains," is an orphan, albeit one as sought after as Little Orphan Annie. People as disparate as Wendell Wilkie, George Bernard Shaw, and Otto Van Bismarck are reported to have coined the phrase.

I would have sworn it was Churchill.

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