Ludwig Börne? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Several websites have attributed the following quote to Ludwig Börne, yet I can find no reference to its original source:
Getting rid of a delusion makes one wiser than getting hold of a truth.
If you can shed any light on the source of this quote, it would be greatly appreciated.
Quote Investigator: Ludwig Börne wrote in the German language, and he died in 1837. The earliest evidence QI has located for this saying appeared in 1840 in Volume 6 of Börne’s collected writings. The German title for this set of books was “Gesammelte Schriften von Ludwig Börne”. 1
To provide a fuller context for the expression the end of this article has an appendix displaying an image of the German text together with an extended English translation.
The saying moved into the English literary domain by 1893 when a “Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern, English and Foreign Sources” by Reverend James Wood was published. One English version of the saying was listed under the German word “Einen”, and another English version was listed under the word “Parting”. Both instances were credited to Börne: 2
Entry “Einen”: Einen Wahn verlieren macht weiser als eine Wahrheit finden—Getting rid of a delusion makes us wiser than getting hold of a truth. Börne.
Entry “Parting”: Parting with a delusion makes one wiser than falling in with a truth. Börne
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1840, Gesammelte Schriften von Ludwig Börne, Volume 6: Fragmente und Aphorismen, (In German), (Collected Writings of Ludwig Boerne, Volume 6: Fragments and Aphorisms), Quote Page 11, Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg, Germany. (Google Books full view) link ↩
- 1893, Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern, English and Foreign Sources by Rev. James Wood, Quote Page 79 and 342, Column 1, Frederick Warne and Co., London and New York. (Google Books full view) link ↩