[Ads-l] Quote: I have nothing to declare except my genius (1910) attributed to Oscar Wilde

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 19 08:15:17 EST 2022


I'd have said the yet more musical. "I've naught to declare but my genius."

In fact, I intend to at the earliest opportunity.

JL


On Wed, Jan 19, 2022 at 1:35 AM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
wrote:

> The Quote Investigator article about the statement in the subject line
> is now available here:
>
> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2022/01/18/declare-genius/
>
> Here is a summary with dates of the evolving instances:
>
> 1910: I have nothing to declare except my genius
> 1912: He had nothing to declare except his genius
> 1912: He had nothing to declare but his genius
> 1913: I have nothing to declare but my genius
> 1917: He had nothing to declare save his genius
> 1917: He had nothing to declare but genius
> 1918: Nothing—except—my genius
> 1923: Only my genius
> 1925: Nothing but my genius
> 1934: I have nothing but my genius to declare
>
> One intriguing and confusing citation appeared in "The Detroit Free
> Press" on January 6, 1924. A young French author named Sylvestre
> Dorian convinced the newspaper that she had obtained the rights to
> translate and publish letters sent from Oscar Wilde to French actress
> Sarah Bernhardt. One letter discussed Wilde’s experiences entering New
> York.
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> “When I arrived in New York I was fairly smothered by reporters. It
> appears that some of the imaginative ones who are ever at work to make
> me famous had spread the story that I slept in gorgeous lace
> nightgowns. I detected, therefore, unusual curiosity in the faces of
> customs officers when they bade me open my trunks for examination.
> Finding nothing one of them asked: 'Have you anything to declare?'
> 'Nothing,' was my disillusioning reply. ‘Nothing, except my genius.'
> Naturally the papers all made capital out of that declaration."
> [End excerpt]
>
> The content of this purported letter was suspicious because
> contemporaneous newspapers did not report Wilde's remark. In addition,
> publisher Rupert Hart-Davis who assembled and published "The Letters
> of Oscar Wilde" considered the missives published by Dorian to be
> inauthentic.
>
> More details are available in the QI article.
> Feedback welcome
> Garson
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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


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