figurative "bootstraps" (1834)

Chris Waigl cwaigl at FREE.FR
Thu Aug 18 03:53:44 UTC 2005


Douglas G. Wilson wrote:

>Is there any reason to think that there is any relation between the
>Muenchhausen story and the early references to one's lifting himself by his
>bootstraps?
>
No. On the contrary, I think Ben has amply demonstrated that there isn't.

>Couldn't both impossibilities have been imagined de novo?
>
>
Yes. And maybe you consider the story ends here ...

>Actually the bootstrap version seems more apt (to me) since pulling up on
>one's bootstraps was a conventional practice AFAIK (in putting on one's
>boots). Pardon me if I'm missing something again.
>
>
... but evidently the two converged. Lots of people seem to think that
the "bootstrap" metaphor originated with M√ľnchhausen. Google Prints
finds 20 books in which this myth is quoted as a fact:
<http://print.google.com/print?ie=UTF-8&q=munchausen+%7C+m%C3%BCnchhausen+boot-straps+%7C+bootstraps&btnG=Search>.

Chris Waigl

--
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