The living will envy the dead (UNCLASSIFIED)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Sep 20 17:28:49 UTC 2007

On 9/20/07, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC <Bill.Mullins at> wrote:
> I found one more.  This one is the first use of the sentiment that I can
> find that is in the context of a nuclear holocaust.
> Atomic Energy--For Better or for Worse
> Oliver Schule Loud
> _Phylon_ (1940-1956) > Vol. 9, No. 1 (1st Qtr., 1948), pp. 36-48 (quote
> from p. 46)
> "The survivors will envy the dead as the fabrics of economies and social
> orders disintegrate."

A sentiment later expressed by President Merkin Muffley in "Dr.
Strangelove" (1964):
"Wouldn't this nucleus of survivors be so grief-stricken and anguished
that they'd, well, envy the dead and not want to go on living?"

Don't know if anything like this line appears in the novel on which
"Dr. Strangelove" was based,  Peter George's _Red Alert_ (1958).

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list