You can quote…Pascal?

On August 4, 1855, John Bartlett published Familiar Quotations.

This book saved my middle and high school self so many times. I can’t seem to get an essay going until I “hear” the first sentence in my head. In my under-developed-writerly years, I had NOTHING to use as a parachute, in order to jump off the cliff and onto the blank piece of lined paper. Thank goodness, I got one of those boxed desk sets of resource books as a gift –I think it was Christmas?– in my 7th grade year. The three paperback books were very useful to me: a dictionary, a thesaurus (okay, I may have overused that one in my zeal to sound smart), and the quotation book. I think I remember using, as my first foray into using “quotable quotes” the famous words of Blaise Pascal, “Man is a reed, the weakest of nature, but he is a thinking reed.” I have no recollection at all what the essay was about, but boy o boy, did I like that image. *insert a chuckle and head shake here*

I have since (mostly) left off using someone else’s words to kick start my own work (although I will admit to a penchant for using epigraphs), but I still thank the long-gone Mr. Bartlett for his compendium of pithy prose.

Have a lovely day,


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