Postman rings twice

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 10 04:03:09 UTC 2001

At 11:04 AM -0500 1/10/01, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>Does anybody here know the origin and significance of the saying "The
>postman [always] rings twice"?
>This seems to be some sort of aphorism or metaphor. It was the title of a
>famous novel, which I read long ago ...

James M. Cain, 1934 (and the celebrated 1946 film noir therefrom,
starring Lana Turner and John Garfield)

>  I don't remember a postman in the
>novel, but ....
>I looked through some reference books (books of proverbs, sayings, etc., at
>a small library) without any luck. Can somebody suggest a reference?
>-- Doug Wilson

My guess is that it wasn't really a saying, but a fact (presumably
postmen back then really DID ring twice, to let you it was the
postman and not someone else) that Cain used as a metaphor for a
crucial plot element that didn't refer directly to postmen but
alluded to foreshadowing of events, twists, etc.  I would wager that
to the extent it became a "saying", Cain is responsible.  Fred?


More information about the Ads-l mailing list