Everything Will Be OK in the End. If It’s Not OK It’s Not the End

John Lennon? Oscar Wilde? Fernando Sabino? Paulo Coelho? Domingos Sabino? Farah Khan? Anonymous?

Question for Quote Investigator: Here are three versions of a popular remark that reflects an unwaveringly upbeat perspective on life:

(1) Everything is OK in the end; if it’s not OK it’s not the end.
(2) Everything is going to be fine in the end. If it’s not fine it’s not the end.
(3) Everything will be all right in the end; so if it is not all right, it is not yet the end.

This saying has been attributed to the well-known Irish wit Oscar Wilde, the famous English musician John Lennon, the prominent Brazilian writer Fernando Sabino, the best-selling Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, and other individuals. The statement has also been credited to the 1999-2005 U.S. television series “Judging Amy” and the 2011 U.K. film “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. I have not seen any convincing evidence identifying the origin. Would you please explore this topic?

Reply from Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in the 1988 Brazilian Portuguese book “O tabuleiro de damas” (“The checkerboard”) by Fernando Sabino. The author ascribed the saying to his father Domingos Sabino. Here is the key passage followed by a translation into English. Boldface added to excepts by QI:[ref] 1988 Copyright, O tabuleiro de damas (The Checkerboard) by Fernando Sabino, Chapter: VIVÊNCIA, Quote Page 79, Publisher: Editora Record, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Verified with scans; thanks to Laurence Horn and the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University) [/ref]

O melhor, talvez, que me lembre, foi o que me disse um dia em que me encontrou entregue à aflição de espírito: “Meu filho, tudo no fim dá certo. Se não deu, é porque ainda não chegou ao fim.”

Perhaps the best thing that I can remember is what he said to me one day when he found me in the grip of a mental affliction: “My son, everything works out in the end. If it didn’t, it’s because it hasn’t come to an end yet.”

The earliest attributions to Oscar Wilde and John Lennon occurred posthumously. Thus, those linkages were probably spurious. The first attribution to Paulo Coelho occurred many years after 1988. Evidence supports the presence of the adage in “Judging Amy” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, but the saying was already in circulation.

Additional detailed information is available in the Quote Investigator article on the Medium website which is available here.

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