Great Thoughts

E.S. Turner

  • The Macmillan Treasury of Relevant Quotations edited by Edward Murphy
    Macmillan, 658 pp, £3.95, August 1980, ISBN 0 333 30038 6

‘It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations,’ wrote Sir Winston Churchill in My Early Life. In America this need was famously recognised by the publishers of the Elbert Hubbard Scrap Book, containing the 2,500 greatest thoughts. Hubbard went down in the Lusitania, but his book was advertised with great vigour for the benefit of tongue-tied partygoers who found their fellow guests talking about Nietzsche. ‘Elbert Hubbard did all your reading for you,’ the publishers said. ‘His book will make you so well informed – you’ll never need to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable in company again.’ Of late, the uneducated, and even the educated, have been well served, for the familiar thick tomes of Hoyt, Benham, Bartlett, Stevenson, the Oxford (recently revised) and the Penguin have been joined by works like the Wintle/Kenin Dictionary of Biographical Quotations and numerous slimmer, more specialised, often racy volumes; and now, in paperback, comes a curiously titled blockbuster from Macmillan.

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