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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 31 23:38:24 UTC 2011

Negative results from a GB snippet search don't mean much. Sometimes they
don't scan the whole book.  More than once I've looked at a passage in the
actual book in front of me only to have GB suggest that it isn't there.

Our library doesn't own either book.


On Tue, May 31, 2011 at 6:05 PM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: mystery quote: "Men like war...."
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> snippets:
> 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.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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