Quote: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. - Comment on YBQ

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 6 06:24:24 UTC 2013

While preparing a post about a quotation attributed to W.C. Fields I
found a slight deviation from the ideal in an entry of the Yale Book
of Quotations. The month for the following citation was listed as
September in the YBQ, but the correct month appears to be October.

[ref] 1949 October, Reader’s Digest, Quotable Quotes, Quote Page 52,
The Reader’s Digest Association. (Verified on paper) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
W. C. Fields: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then
quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it.
[End excerpt]

Slight divergences like this remind me of "copyright traps" used in
dictionaries, encyclopedias, and maps. Apologies if appropriate.

Here is a precursor quotation written by the Canadian humorist Stephen
Leacock in 1917.

[ref] 1917 Copyright, Frenzied Fiction by Stephen Leacock, Simple
Stories of Success or How to Succeed in Life, Start Page 243, Quote
Page 245, John Lane Company, New York. (Google Books full view) link

[Begin excerpt]
According to all the legends and story books the principal factor in
success is perseverance. Personally, I think there is nothing in it.
If anything, the truth lies the other way.

There is an old motto that runs, "If at first you don't succeed, try,
try again." This is nonsense. It ought to read—"If at first you don't
succeed, quit, quit at once."

If you can't do a thing, more or less, the first time you try, you
will never do it. Try something else while there is yet time.
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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