Literary Rejection Letter

American writer Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946) received the following quaint rejection letter from editor A. J. Fifield: I am only one, only one, only. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one […]

Read More

Quotable #85: The Truth

“The greatest enemy of all is considered he who tells the truth.” — Plato, The Republic “Time will reveal everything. It is a babbler and speaks even when not asked.” — Euripides, Euripidean Fragments “Yet the deepest truths are best read between the lines, and, for the most part, refuse to be written.” — Amos […]

Read More

Creative Accounting

A farmer sent three sons to college. On their return home, wishing to see how their college education had fitted them for business, he gave to his youngest son ten eggs, to the second son thirty eggs, and to the eldest son fifty eggs. He told them to take their eggs to the market to […]

Read More

“Were My Obituaries Good?”

During the Cyprus coup of 1974, it was reported that Archbishop Makarios III (1913 – 1977) died. However, the news was proven to be false when the said Archbishop reappeared sometime later. When asked about his reaction on the news of his apparent death, he said, “You should have known it was not easy for […]

Read More

In Case of a Disaster

On July 18, 1969, while the public was anxiously following the news of the flight of Apollo 11 to the surface of the moon, presidential speechwriter William Safire was preparing a contingency memo which contained a speech to be delivered by U.S. President Richard Nixon in case an unforeseen disaster occurs, and some other directives: […]

Read More

An Engineered Literary Hoax

In September 1810, Scottish writer Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) wrote a letter to Robert Southey (1774 – 1843) relating about a plagiarism allegation he received from an anonymous individual: A witty rogue, the other day, who sent me a letter subscribed “Detector,” proved me guilty of stealing a passage from one of Vida’s Latin […]

Read More

Gleanings from the Past #84

Legally Speaking Dear Ned, Soon after I received my Acme pencil (11 cents), it rolled off the desk and on to the floor. Upon retrieving it, I hit my head on the desk. Can I hold Acme responsible? Boiling Mad Dear Boiling, This is what’s known as an open-and-shut case. If you don’t sue them, […]

Read More

Quotable #84: Criticism

A perfect Judge will read each work of Wit With the same spirit that its author writ; Survey the whole, nor seek slight faults to find Where nature moves, and rapture warms the mind. — Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1711 “It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.” — Benjamin […]

Read More

Short-Term Memory

Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)  once boasted about his amazing memory prowess to his friend Bennet Langton (1736 – 1801). As a demonstration, he said that he can recite an entire chapter of The Natural History of Iceland, a 1758 translation of Niels Horrebow’s work. When asked to prove his claim, he said: Chap. LXXII. Concerning […]

Read More