A Commonplace Book

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Quotations about Quoting

"With just enough of learning to misquote."
-- Lord Byron

"A quotation, like a pun, should come unsought, and then be welcomed only for some propriety of felicity justifying the intrusion."
-- Robert Chapman

Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it. I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.
-- Emerson

"Quotations (such as have point and lack triteness) from the great old authors are an act of reverence on the part of the quoter, and a blessing to a public grown superficial and external."
-- Louise Guiney

"The test of an author is not to be found merely in the number of his phrases that pass current in the corner of newspapers...but in the number of passages that have really taken root in younger minds."
-- Thomas Higginson

"He wrapped himself in quotations- as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors."
-- Kipling

"To be occasionally quoted is the only fame I care for."
-- Alexander Smith

"Famous remarks are very seldom quoted correctly."
-- Simeon Strunsky

"The most familiar quotations are the most likely to be misquoted...Some have settled down to false versions that have obscured the true ones. They have passed over from literature into speech."
-- Carl Van Doren

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
-- Oscar Wilde

It's like a quote: it's the nearest any of us gets to being in the movies....
-- Nick Hornby . High Fidelity (p.163)

Real novelty of vocabulary is impossible; in the matter of language we lead a parasitical existence, and are always quoting. Quotations, conscious or unconscious, vary in kind according as the mind is active to work upon them and make them its own.
-- Walter Raleigh Style. (1904)

In its grossest and most servile form quotation is a lazy folly; a thought has received some signal or notorious expression, and as often as the old sense, or something like it, recurs, the old phrase rises to the lips. This degenerates to simple phrase-mongering, and those who practise it are not vigilantly jealous of their meaning.
-- Walter Raleigh Style. (1904)

Such an expression as "fine by degrees and beautifully less" is often no more than a bloated equivalent for a single word - say "diminishing" or "shrinking." Quotations like this are the warts and excremental parts of language; the borrowings of good writers are never thus superfluous, their quotations are appropriations.
-- Walter Raleigh Style. (1904)

Plagiarism is a crime only where writing is a trade; expression need never be bound by the law of copyright while it follows thought, for thought, as some great thinker has observed, is free. The words were once Shakespeare 's; if only you can feel them as he did, they are yours now no less than his. The best quotations, the best translations, the best thefts, are all equally new and original works.
-- Walter Raleigh Style. (1904)

If, as we who study ourselves have learned to do, every one who hears a good sentence, would immediately consider how it applies to his own case, he would find that it is not so much an excellent saying as an excellent blow at the usual stupidity of his own judgment; but we receive the precepts and admonitions of truth as directed to the common people, never to ourselves; and instead of applying them to our morals, do only very ignorantly and unprofitably commit them to memory.
-- Michel de Montaigne. "Of Custom" Essays (1575)