Quoth anonymous
January 21, 2011 10:16 AM   Subscribe

She's a lady. A bunch of gems penned by women and mis-attributed to men, rounded up by the Yale Alumni Magazine. To wit:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

The French philosopher Voltaire is widely credited for what may be the most celebrated quotation about freedom of speech. Bartlett's lists it under his name, calling it a paraphrase from his letter to a M. le Riche, February 6, 1770—but that attribution was based on a misreading. The quote does not appear in Voltaire's letter to François-Louis-Henri Leriche of that date, nor anywhere else in Voltaire's works. The real writer was Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1868–1919), English author of The Friends of Voltaire, a book she published in 1906 under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre. The illustrious line is Hall's own characterization of Voltaire's attitude. Discussing a book by one of his friends, she explains that even though he had thought the work rather light, he rose to its defense when it was censored.
posted by liketitanic (16 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Changing the attribution of that quote changes the meaning for me. If a man said it, it sounds like he would die to defend his interlocutor's freedom of speech, i.e. go to war to defend that right. If a woman said it, it sounds like she would defend her interlocutor's freedom of speech until death, i.e. for as long as she lives. Yes I know there have been times in history when women have been called to war.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:25 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure anyone speaking in first person uses "to the death" in that way, 2bucksplus.
posted by lizzicide at 10:32 AM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


It was also Ms. Hall characterization of Voltaire's philosophy, not a statement of her own belief.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:35 AM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would expect nothing less from a University that has an acapella group called the whiffenpoofs.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:04 AM on January 21, 2011


Wear Sunscreen! Mary Schmich, not Kurt Vonnegut.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:05 AM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Imagine my surprise to find out that:

Instead of this absurd division into sexes they ought to class people as static and dynamic.

... was not actually George Eliot, but Evelyn Waugh!
posted by kurumi at 11:29 AM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah, well what about the opposite? Paul Shaffer is the one who originally said "It's Raining Men! Hallelujah! - It's Raining Men! Amen!".

And yet the male race has been virtually robbed of the recognition it deserves for this accomplishment.
posted by dgaicun at 11:42 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, very interesting. I liked many of these so much already. My top two:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men, and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory is a benediction.

This passage is often said to be by Ralph Waldo Emerson or Robert Louis Stevenson. In fact, it was written by Bessie A. Stanley of Lincoln, Kansas, in 1905. She earned $250 as the first-prize winner in a contest sponsored by the magazine Modern Women.

No man is a hero to his valet.

It was Anne-Marie Bigot de Cornuel (1614–1694), the hostess of a Parisian salon and a much-cited wit, who made this quip about the indignities of familiarity. We know her as the source because of a 1728 letter written by another Parisian, who quoted Cornuel years after her death: “Il n'y avoit point de héros pour les valets de chambre.”

posted by bearwife at 11:50 AM on January 21, 2011


Given how many times I've said something and had it ignored, only to have a guy say it five minutes later and get a response...this surprises me not at all. Thanks liketitanic!
posted by emjaybee at 11:53 AM on January 21, 2011 [19 favorites]


Given how many times I've said something and had it ignored, only to have a guy say it five minutes later and get a response...this surprises me not at all. Thanks liketitanic!


(did I do that right?)
posted by longbaugh at 12:12 PM on January 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


emjaybee, longbaugh got my LOLs. BUT IT'S NOT BECAUSE I'M SOME KINDA GENDER ESSENTIALIST.
posted by liketitanic at 12:22 PM on January 21, 2011


I'm not sure anyone speaking in first person uses "to the death" in that way, 2bucksplus.


Yeah, the cool kids all say "to the pain" now.
posted by straight at 12:30 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


hee, longbaugh. The worst, though was the time my husband told a funny story about something that happened to him...that had happened to ME. Before I knew him. I called him on it, and he apologized and said, "Oh, well, I forgot it wasn't me." I still don't know how that is possible.

/derail
posted by emjaybee at 12:56 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I totally steal other people's stories but it's only because I tell them better ;)
posted by longbaugh at 1:40 PM on January 21, 2011


pretty sure emjaybee's story actually happened to her husband
posted by mulligan at 10:15 PM on January 21, 2011


Anonymous was a woman

Alert the Scientologists!
posted by Gordafarin at 5:41 AM on January 23, 2011


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