Posterity Is As Likely To Be Wrong As Anybody Else

Heywood Broun? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The popular embrace or condemnation of an artwork is often transitory. Artists and critics speculate about the judgement of posterity, but that future evaluation may be just as flawed as the current viewpoint. I love this insightful remark:

Posterity is as likely to be wrong as anybody else.

Do you know who should receive credit?

Quote Investigator: In April 1924 the influential journalist and drama critic Heywood Broun published the following in his syndicated column. Boldface added to excerpts: 1

Whenever an artist thinks that the community does not sufficiently appreciate him, he takes an appeal to posterity. I wonder where this notion comes from, that posterity is equipped with superior judgment and wisdom? Just how does it get that way? Posterity is as likely to be wrong as anybody else.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1924 Broun released the collection “Sitting on the World”, and the passage above was included in the essay titled “The Last Review”. 2

In 1987 “The Portable Curmudgeon” compiled by Jon Winokur included an entry for the quotation: 3

Posterity is as likely to be wrong as anybody else.
Heywood Broun

The 1989 reference “The Macmillan Dictionary of Quotations” contained the quotation together with a citation pointing to Broun’s “Sitting on the World”. 4

In conclusion, Heywood Broun deserves credit for this quotation.

Image Notes: Illustration of tree with roots from 422737 at Pixabay.

Notes:

  1. 1924 April 2, Oakland Tribune, It Seems To Me by Heywood Broun, Quote Page 16, Column 7, Oakland, California. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1924, Sitting on the World by Heywood Broun, Chapter: The Last Review, Start Page 62, Quote Page 62, G. P. Putnam’s Sons: The Knickerbocker Press, New York. (Unz)
  3. 1987, The Portable Curmudgeon, Compiled and edited by Jon Winokur, Topic: Posterity, Quote Page 221, New American Library, New York. (Verified with scans)
  4. 1989, The Macmillan Dictionary of Quotations, Topic: Posterity, Quote Page 441, Column 2, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York. (Verified on paper)