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Random House Websters Quotationary

ISBN 0375408886 / 9780375408885 / 0-375-40888-6

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Book summary

Though Emerson said "Quotation confesses inferiority," and Thomas Fuller advised "Search not Authors to say what thou canst as well say thyself," E.M. Cioran warned "Beware of thinkers whose minds function only when they are fueled by a quotation," and Vauvenargues contended that "Other people's wit does not entertain us for long," there is always the viewpoint of Samuel Richardson, who said "We are wise by other people's experience," and Ovid's, who believed "It is right to learn even from one's enemies."

The Quotationary is a collection of quotations, some 20,000 of them, arranged by subject (from Ability to Zen, and each with suggestions of other headings to check for similar topics), cross-referenced by author (from Edward Abbey on truthfulness to Martin Zweig on the stock market), and then indexed by subject categories as well, making it easy to find the right bon mot to start a speech or cap an argument (or cap a speech and start an argument). And they are addictive. It may be instructive, but it is also entertaining to read the words of others. There's Napoleon's view that "All being said, I like only those people who are useful to me, and only so long as they are useful," and Fran Lebowitz opining that "There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death." The important thing is that whatever take on life you espouse, you can not only find elegant quotes to support you, but also fine words to the opposite. --Stephanie Gold [via]