Groucho Marx? Ernest Bevin? George S. Kaufman? Cotton Ed Smith? Franklin P. Adams? Alan Hale? Walter F. George? Oscar Levant?
Dear Quote Investigator: A comment which acknowledges criticism has been coupled with a harshly comical riposte. Here are three examples:
- “I’m my own worst enemy. ” “Not while I’m in the room.”
- “She is her own worst enemy.” “Not while I am around.”
- “He is his own greatest enemy” “Not while I’m alive, he ain’t.”
Would you please explore the provenance of this type of exchange?
Quote Investigator: The earliest instance of this schema located by QI appeared in a 1933 article by Franklin P. Adams in the “New York Herald Tribune”. Adams was reviewing a book filled with abbreviations, informal language, and flexible spelling; hence, he decided to retain that style in his analysis. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
. . . only the other night when I said I am my own worst enemy 4 fellows rushed in to say loyaly not while they was alive.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1933 March 12, New York Herald Tribune, Section: Books, Life Is Just a Game of Baseball by Franklin P. Adams, (Book Review of “Lose With a Smile” by Ring Lardner), Quote Page 4, Column 1, New York, New York. (ProQuest) ↩