Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not By Shakespeare

UPDATED!  This has become such a popular topic that we've spun off a completely new site.  Please visit Not By Shakespeare for the most up to date research into who actually said what.

I was very upset yesterday to discover that in my Shakespeare Day blur I'd retweeted a quote as if it were by Shakespeare, only to later realize it is not.  (Yes, that kind of thing bothers me.  I would much rather answer "I don't know" to a question, or remain silent, than to be wrong.)  What's annoying is that if you google these quotes, the vast majority of "sources" on the net will in fact claim them to be Shakespeare, but with no citation.  If you can't find it in the works (and don't forget to check Venus and Adonis!), it's probably not in there.

So I thought now would be a good time to collect some of the more popular ones in one place, and give proper attribution.  At least, disclaimer, I'm giving what I *think* is proper attribution!  Correct me if I'm wrong, and feel free to add what I miss.
"I love thee, I love but thee With a love that shall not die Till the sun grows cold And the stars grow old."
This is the one I goofed on.  It is Bayard Taylor, from the Bedouin Song.
"When I saw you I fell in love. And you smiled because you knew."
Arrigo Boito.  (Who, by the way, was apparently famous for his work on the operas Otello and Falstaff!)
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
William Congreve in The Mourning Bride (1697).  Shakespeare did say "Come not between the dragon and his wrath," and "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child" (both King Lear, I believe?), which both seem to be to be of a similar spirit.
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."
Walter Scott, Marmion.

"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet at least teach it to dance."
Speak of the devil, I saw this one for the first time on the same day I posted this article. How can anyone think that's Shakespeare? It's George Bernard Shaw.
It's worth noting that there's already at least one other site covering this topic, but two of the ones I list above, that I see on a daily basis passed around Twitter, are not even on that page.  And that one has a whole bunch of stuff that I've never seen attributed to Shakespeare.  The list above, so far, are quotes I've personally seen attributed incorrectly to our boy in Stratford.

So, the next time you catch somebody forwarding along that "til the sun grows cold" line as if it were Shakespeare, then you smack that person right back down and take away their Complete Works. ;)  And don't forget to link.  Geek needs the google juice. :)!

UPDATED!  This has become such a popular topic that we've spun off a completely new site.  Please visit Not By Shakespeare for the most up to date research into who actually said what.


kj said...

So . . . The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford wrote all those?


Alexi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexi said...

The one I always hear is "The pen is mightier than the sword" which is not from Shakespeare but from the 19th century novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose other contribution to literature is the phrase "It was a dark and stormy night," which is also usually attributed to someone else. In this case, Charles Smultz, creator of Peanuts.

Duane said...

Well, kj, most of them were first said after Oxford was long dead. So ... yes.

Bill said...

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Duane said...

I've also found that people tend to confuse Corinthians ("Love is patient, love is kind ...") with Sonnet 116 ("Love is not love that alters when it finds..."), particularly when it comes to wedding readings.

Duane said...

More ...

"Love of heaven makes one heavenly."

That's from Sir Phillip Sidney, one of Shakespeare's contemporaries and a master of the sonnet form.

"Love to faults is always blind."

William Blake, 150 years after Shakespeare.

Tyler Moss said...

Saw this one for the first time today: "Your lips are like wine, and i want to get drunk."