As Hesketh Pearson put it, ‘Misquotations are the only quotations that are never misquoted.’ To see if he’s right, we’ve compiled a Top Ten list containing what we think are the commonest expressions in English which are misquotations of their original literary idioms. How many of these did you know started out as something different? And do you think that they are still ‘misquotations’, if the phrases go on to gain a new life of their own?
Oh, and have we left off any good examples of literary misquotation?
1. Me Tarzan, you Jane. This line doesn’t appear in any of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original books, nor in the films; it probably arose as a compacting of the dialogue exchange between Tarzan and Jane in the 1932 film Tarzan the Ape Man.
2. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. This translation from Dante’s Inferno – the words are inscribed…
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