Anonymous Was A Woman

For all feminists and sticklers for proper quote attribution alike, the Yale Alumni Magazine has a wonderful must-read article setting the record straight on the real women who wrote famous lines either falsely attributed to men or long attribute to “anonymous”.  (Virginia Woolf wrote that she “would venture to guess that Anon,
who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman”.)

Here is just a tantalizing example:

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.

Many more.

via The Daily Dish, who profiled the real source behind a famous quote oft attributed to Emerson.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Ben Finney

    My collection of aphorisms has for a number of years contained this entry:

    “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to mis-attribute this quote to Voltaire.” —Avram Grumer, rec.arts.sf.written, 2000-05-30


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X