Saying: Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. (Suggestion for YBQ and DMP)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 29 23:19:35 UTC 2013

The Yale Book of Quotations (2006) has an entry for the saying in the
subject line. This first citation is to the movie The Godfather Part

[Begin excerpt]
[Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, speaking:]

There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught
me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

The Godfather: Part II (motion picture) (1974).
Coauthored with Francis Ford Coppola.
[End excerpt]

The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs (2012) also has an entry for the
saying and presents the same quotation.

When I was asked about this saying I found another entry in Random
House Webster's Quotationary (2001) but the phrasing was slightly
different. The word "keep" was repeated.

[Begin excerpt]
Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.

MARIO PUZO (1920-1999). Machiavellian advice from Don Corleone as
recalled by his son Michael (played by Al Pacino), The Godfather, Part
II (film), 1974
[End excerpt]

To resolve the discrepancy I went to youtube to watch a video clip and
transcribed the following:
(Quotation is spoken at 3:22 of 4:07)

[Begin transcript]
Al Pacino: My father taught me many things here. He taught me in this
room. He taught me: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
[End transcript]

So I think Quotationary is not quite correct. YBQ and DMP have the
core of the quotation correct, but the extended quote seems to be
incorrect. I also checked the excellent iPhone app for the YBQ/DMP and
it lists the same information as the DMP.

So when new editions are released of the print books / ebooks / apps
updating this entry may be a good idea. Please check my transcription
for accuracy.

Caveat: There might be more than one filmed version of this scene. I
do not know.


The American Dialect Society -

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