If It Sounds Too Good to Be Real . . .
Author, writer and blogger Lev Raphael offers this advice, pertinent to The WORD:
“A lot of people swear by Goodreads. I swear at it. Often. It’s a font of unsourced quotations, some of them fake, just like Wikiquotes. Take the line that tops the list of George Eliot quotes: ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’
“There’s no proof she ever said it. None whatsoever. Nobody has found that line in her letters, journals, stories, novels, or even discovered anyone who knew her claiming that she said it.”
—“4 Fake Quotes by Famous Authors to Watch Out For,” HuffPost, Nov. 19, 2014
Raphael goes on to document a couple of other quotes that didn’t sound right. It’s worth a read. I take his point. I do fact-check quotes that appear on the WORD (with sometimes funny or horrifying results), but some older stuff gleaned from collections (no, never Wikiquotes!) may slip through as counterfeits.
The thing is, WORD victims are, well, word people, editors, writers and pretty well-read. They’re not shy about telling me when I screw up.
Image: Domenico Ghirlandaio, “Portrait of St Jerome Writing in his Study,” 1480