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? 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:[1]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 … Continue reading

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.

References

References
1 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)

There Are Only Four Stories: The Siege of the City, the Return Home, the Quest, and the Sacrifice of a God

Jorge Luis Borges? Paulo Coelho? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous Argentinian short-story writer Jorge Luis Borges apparently believed that there were only four archetypal tales. Would you please explore this topic and identify the four tales?

Quote Investigator: In 1972 Jorge Luis Borges published a collection titled “El Oro de los Tigres” (“The Gold of the Tigers”). Most of the pieces were poems, but one piece was an essay titled “Los Cuatro Ciclos” (“The Four Cycles”) which described four fundamental stories that have been told and retold throughout the history of humankind. The following excerpts in Spanish are followed by English translations. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1972, El Oro De Los Tigres by Jorge Luis Borges, Essay: Los Cuatro Ciclos, Start Page 127, End Page 130, Emecé, Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Verified with scans)

Una, la más antigua, es la de una fuerte ciudad que cercan y defienden hombres valientes. Los defensores saben que la ciudad será entregada al hierro y al fuego y que su batalla es inútil . . .

One, the oldest, is that of a strong city surrounded and defended by brave men. The defenders know that the city will be handed over to iron and fire and that their battle is futile . . .

Borges used the siege of Troy to illustrate this story type.

Otra, que se vincula a la primera, es la de un regreso.
Another, which is linked to the first, is that of a return.

Borges used the return of Odysseus to Ithaca as an example.

La tercera historia es la de una busca.
The third story is that of a search.

Borges used Jason and the Argonauts search for the Golden Fleece as an example of a successful quest, and he used Captain Ahab’s search for Moby Dick as an example of a calamitous quest.

La última historia es la del sacrificio de un dios.
The last story is that of the sacrifice of a god.

Borges used the mutilation and death of Attis as an example. He also used the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The QI website has a separate article about the following related saying: There are only two plots: (1) A person goes on a journey (2) A stranger comes to town.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading There Are Only Four Stories: The Siege of the City, the Return Home, the Quest, and the Sacrifice of a God

References

References
1 1972, El Oro De Los Tigres by Jorge Luis Borges, Essay: Los Cuatro Ciclos, Start Page 127, End Page 130, Emecé, Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Verified with scans)