Terry Pratchett? Marion Woodman? Joseph Campbell? David Mitchell? Vina Howland? Anonymous?
Question for Quote Investigator: There is a family of sayings with a surrealistic twist. Here are three instances:
(1) If you walk far enough you’ll meet yourself.
(2) Walk far enough and you will meet yourself, coming the other way.
(3) If you travel far enough, one day you will recognize yourself coming down the road to meet yourself.
This notion has been attributed to English fantasy author Terry Pratchett who created the Discworld, Canadian Jungian psychoanalyst Marion Woodman who was a mythopoetic author, U.S. literature professor Joseph Campbell who wrote “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, and English novelist David Mitchell who wrote “Cloud Atlas”. Would you please explore this topic?
Reply from Quote Investigator: The earliest close match located by QI appeared in “The Boston Post” newspaper of Massachusetts in 1895. The statement was employed by Vina Howland of Oakland, Massachusetts who presented an anonymous attribution. She was figuratively referring to the complicated layout of streets and walkways in Boston. Boldface added to excepts by QI: 1895 July 11, The Boston Post, Among the Women: Other Expressions, Quote Page 3, Column 2, Boston, Massachusetts. (Newspapers_com)
Miss Vina Howland of Oakland is a very pretty girl. She said: “How disappointed we were not to have this convention, but just think! I’ve seen Boston and convention, too; it’s like a dream. But ain’t it an awful place to get lost? I believe now the story they tell that is, ‘If you walk far enough you’ll meet yourself.’”
Based on current evidence the originator of the saying remains anonymous. The meaning of this notion is highly variable as shown below. QI has not yet found any substantive support for the ascription to Joseph Campbell.
Marion Woodman employed an instance in 1982. Terry Pratchett and a co-author used an instance in 1994, and David Mitchell used the expression in 2004.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1895 July 11, The Boston Post, Among the Women: Other Expressions, Quote Page 3, Column 2, Boston, Massachusetts. (Newspapers_com)|