Cover image for Words to live by : the origins of conventional wisdom and commonsense advice
Words to live by : the origins of conventional wisdom and commonsense advice
Panati, Charles, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 416 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


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PN6299.A2 P36 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN6299.A2 P36 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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"Ignorance is bliss." "Let the buyer beware." "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today."* These familiar sayings have become part of our collective memory and embody the values we hold in common--but where did they come from? With his characteristically obsessive curiosity and relentless detailed detective skills, Charles Panati tracks the origins of hundreds of gems of folk wisdom that have found their way into American culture. Including such far-ranging sources as Aesop, the Bible, Ben Franklin, and Broadway, Words to Live By uncovers, and pulls together the various strands that make up the rich folk tradition of popular wisdom and "common sense." As always, Charles Panati takes us on a journey that is seriously informative, endlessly entertaining, and full of surprises.*Sayings from the English poet Thomas Gray (1716-1771), the code of Hammurabi (1750 b.c.), and the Greek poet Hesiod (800 b.c.)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Another in Panati's series of books on origins (e.g., Sacred Origins of Profound Things, LJ 12/96), this text identifies the sources of pithy maxims such as "the devil made me do it" or "no pain no gain." Panati's choice of sources is eclectic, including the Bible and the Declaration of Independence as well as the words of cartoonists, songwriters, and comedians. Quotes are arranged topically in chapters with subject headings such as "Responsibility and Self-Respect." Entries include the maxim, its original source, an interpretation of its meaning, and a history of its development. Chapters typically include a definition of the chapter topic and collections of quotes on the subject by notable people, e.g., "American Presidents on Freedom." An entertaining browser; recommended for public and academic libraries where there is interest in the topic.√ĄShana C. Fair, Ohio Univ. Lib., Zanesville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.