[Ads-l] Quote: There are really no dull subjects. There are only dull writers. (Richard Le Gallienne, April 24, 1991)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 3 16:10:40 UTC 2016


Thanks for your response, Dan, and thanks for double-checking with a
search. It is true that Le Gallienne used a modified version of the
saying in a book review again in 1935. Both the 1921 and 1935
instances were included in the QI article:

[Begin excerpt from QI article]
In 1935 Richard Le Gallienne published a book review in "The New York
Times" and reformulated the saying to refer to "life" instead of
"subjects": 9

[Begin nested excerpt]
As Rossetti said of translating poetry, there is only one law: "Thou
shall not make a bad poem out of a good one." So it is with literature
generally. Life in itself is never dull. It is only dull writers that
can make it so.
[End nested excerpt]

[End excerpt]

Also note that, the OCR text in the online nytimes.com archive
sometimes differs from the OCR text in the "The New York Times"
ProQuest database.

Garson


On Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 10:56 AM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Quote: There are really no dull subjects. There are only dull
>               writers. (Richard Le Gallienne, April 24, 1991)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Garson, FYI, when I search NYTimes.com for "dull writers" the Richard Le
> Gallienne book review (actually dated from 1935, not 1921) shows up as the
> second oldest use of the term.
>
> DanG
>
> On Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 10:19 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
> adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: Quote: There are really no dull subjects. There are only
>> dull
>>               writers. (Richard Le Gallienne, April 24, 1991)
>>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> The date in the subject line was supposed to be April 24, 1921.
>>
>> This follow-up gives me a chance to report on the behavior of the
>> ProQuest Historical Newspapers database of "The New York Times". If
>> you formulate a search query based on the obvious phrases with dull
>> subject and dull writers you will discover that the 1921 article is
>> not detected. The problem is probably due to poor OCR.
>>
>> You can find the 1921 article by searching for its title
>> "Transcendental Laborite"
>>
>> Garson
>>
>>
>> On Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole
>> <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > The essential reference "The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs" has an
>> > entry for the following expression:
>> >
>> > There are no dull subjects, just dull writers (teachers, students).
>> >
>> > I was asked to explore this saying and its (apparently spurious)
>> > attribution to H. L. Mencken.
>> >
>> > DMP gave an excellent citation dated December 9, 1922 and traced the
>> > proverb back to George Horace Lorimer who was the editor of "The
>> > Saturday Evening Post". I have located a slightly earlier citation
>> > dated April 24, 1921 in a book review written by Richard Le Gallienne;
>> > he might be the coiner.
>> >
>> > There Are Really No Dull Subjects, Only Dull Writers
>> > http://quoteinvestigator.com/2016/03/03/dull-no/
>> >
>> > Garson
>>
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>>
>
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