Quote: Let=?windows-1252?Q?=92s_?=all go to see Miss Hepburn and hear her run the gamut of emotions from A to B! (Jan 6, 1934)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 27 23:56:12 UTC 2013

Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> I have a simpler question: why is the collective form of emotions a gamut,
> and how old is that connection?

The OED has the following for the relevant sense for gamut

gamut, noun
6. The full range or scope of something. Now freq. as the whole gamut
. See also to run the gamut at Phrases.

1753   W. Hogarth Anal. Beauty xii. 97   This shade [i.e. shading]..is
the painter's gamut.

1756   World 6 May 1052   [The words]vastly, horridly, abominably,
immensely or excessively, which, with three or four more.., make up
the whole scale or gamut of modern female conversation.

1799   Anti-Jacobin Rev. 2 App. 568   But this is only ascending a
half-note higher in the gamut of nonsense.

1806   Strictures Establishm. Colleges 44   [They] have learned the
first note in the gamut of blind servile superstition, and there can
be nothing too monstrous for them not to stretch their enslaved minds
to afterwards.

Below is an example in 1837 of "whole gamut of emotions".

Periodical: The New-York Mirror
Date: April 29, 1837
Page: 851
Column: 3
(The data above is from digital page images; Google metadata is inaccurate here)

[Begin excerpt]
"Ah, Madame," he added, with an apologetick shrug--a Frenchman can
express the whole gamut of emotions with his shoulders...
[End excerpt]

Jonathan Swift died in 1745. If he made a joke similar to the "gamut A
to B" quip he probably did not use the word gamut. Also, it is
possible that Winchell's informant Irvin S. Cobb was simply mistaken.


>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:
>>  =3D?windows-1252?Q?Quote=3D3A_Let=3D92s_all_go_to_see_Miss_Hepburn_and_
>>               hear_h?=3D
>> =3D?windows-1252?Q?er_run_the_gamut_of_emotions_from_A_to_B=3D21_=3D28J
>>               an_6=3D2C_1934=3D29?=3D
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> ------
>> Back in July 2010 Fred asked about several quotations attributed to
>> wordsmith Dorothy Parker. In August 2010 I posted to the list about a
>> famous slam Parker directed at thespian Katharine Hepburn (a remark
>> not included in Fred's inquiry).
>> Here is an update with some questions for list members. The QI website
>> has an entry with a first citation dated January 6, 1934. Also,
>> sometime in 1934 Alexander Woollcott's book "While Rome Burns" was
>> released, and it included an instance of the saying.
>> She Runs the Gamut of Human Emotion from A to B
>> http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/09/26/gamut-emotion/
>> Question 1: The popular columnist O. O. Mclntyre asserted that
>> Parker's joke had been used by a critic named William Winter many
>> years earlier (though the wording was probably different):
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> A mot accredited to Dorothy Parker reported Katharine Hepburn running
>> the gamut of emotion from A to B in her stage play .. . It was fresher
>> when William Winter, a gentler critic, pulled it on an actress of 30
>> years ago . . . Most Algonquin gags are that way.
>> [End excerpt]
>> If someone can find evidence of an earlier occurrence credited to
>> Winter (or anybody else) that would be excellent.
>> Question 2: Columnist Walter Winchell suggested that Jonathan Swift
>> made the same jape:
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> Oh, yes - talking about tracing quips and gags - Cobb also told me
>> that Dorothy Parker was accused of uttering: "She runs the gamut of
>> human emotion from A to B" (Speaking of Hepburn in "The Lake"), but
>> William Winter, the critic, wrote it in a notice years ago=97and that
>> Dean Swift said it in the seventeenth century!
>> [End excerpt]
>> If someone can find evidence of an earlier occurrence credited to
>> Swift (or anybody else) that would be great.
>> Question 3: There is a match in Google Books with a year of 1933 in
>> Reader's Digest, Volume 24. If this year were accurate then this
>> citation would be the earliest. But Volume 24 includes issues from
>> December 1933 to June 1934, and I think that the match probably occurs
>> around April 1934. This cite is interesting because it claims that
>> Parker was criticizing Hepburn's performance in "Little Women" instead
>> of "The Lake". Based on extracted text the section title is "Barbed
>> Amenities".
>> If someone accessed Reader's Digest, Volume 24 to ascertain the month
>> and verify the text that would be great. Please do not greatly
>> inconvenience yourself because I will probably be able to check this
>> cite within a month.
>> Magazine: The Reader's Digest
>> Volume: 24 (Nov 1933 to Jun 1934)
>> Year: 1933 or 1934
>> Page 38
>> (Google Books data and metadata is sometimes inaccurate)
>> http://books.google.com/books?id=3DmSEYAQAAIAAJ&q=3Dgamut#search_anchor
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> Reviewing the motion picture, Little Women, Dorothy Parker writes of
>> Katherine Hepburn's acting: "She runs the gamut of emotions from A to
>> B."
>> [End excerpt]
>> Thanks for reading,
>> Garson
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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