mystery quote: "Men like war...."

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 31 22:05:52 UTC 2011

JL wrote:
> The date suggests that the quote is from either Ellmann's prize-winning
> _Sweet Desserts_ (1988) or from the less sweet _Varying Degrees of
> Hopelessness_ (1991).

Google Books contains these two volumes and they are searchable and
viewable in snippets. Based on search results: _Varying Degrees of
Hopelessness_ does not contain "shedding", "sway", "menstruate", or
"like war". _Sweet Desserts_ does not contain "shedding", "sway", or
"like war". Hence, the quotation is in neither book. (Alternatively,
GB search is flawed, or the quote is phrased differently.)

Below is the quotation and attribution in _365 Women's Reflections on
Men_ (1996) by Catherine M. Edmonson based on extracted text and

Men like war: they do not hold
much sway over birth, so
they make up for it with death. Unlike
women, men menstruate by shedding
other people's blood.
                           - Lucy Ellman

(The spelling of "Ellman" is the one visible in a snippet from the text.)

Ellmann may have communicated the remark in a short story, essay,
speech, or interview. It is also possible that the attribution is
incorrect and Edmonson's claim is flawed.

The quote comparing a man to a mango apparently appears in Ellmann's
novel "Man or Mango: A Lament". GB contains the book but it is in no
preview mode. An excerpt was posted on the blog of Maud Newton. Within
the novel the protagonist who is teaching a course on writing is
reviewing a notebook that contains a work titled "MANGO vs. MAN":

>From the absent student’s notebook:

In what way is a man more than a mango?
Is he more useful about the house?
Is he more beautiful?
Is he as generous and obliging as this succulent fruit gently ripening
on your window sill?
Is his ripeness as tender?
Will your children like him as much as they’d like a mango?
Has he got anything to offer in atonement for not being a mango?

Mangoes do not lord it over everybody at committee meetings.
Nor do they monopolize the conversation at dinner.
With even the most lethargic of men, there is still the threat of
physical force.
Not so with a mango.
A mango’s ears do not stick out.
A woman does not have to wear lipstick and high heels in order to
spend an evening with a mango.
A woman does not have to wash her hair for a mango.
I have only known one mango that was no good.

The American Dialect Society -

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