Mark Twain? Theodor Reik? John Robert Colombo? James Eayrs? Anonymous?
“History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes,” as Mark Twain is often reputed to have said. (I’ve found no compelling evidence that he ever uttered that nifty aphorism. No matter — the line is too good to resist.)
Would you please research the provenance of this adage?
Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Twain who died in 1910 made this remark. Twain first received credit many years later in 1970, and details for this linkage are shown further below.
The earliest strong match known to QI appeared in 1965 within an essay by psychoanalyst Theodor Reik titled “The Unreachables”. The phrasing was a bit longer, but the meaning was the same. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1965, Curiosities of the Self: Illusions We Have about Ourselves by Theodor Reik, Essay 3: The Unreachables: The Repetition Compulsion in Jewish History, Quote Page 133, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, … Continue reading
There are recurring cycles, ups and downs, but the course of events is essentially the same, with small variations. It has been said that history repeats itself. This is perhaps not quite correct; it merely rhymes.
Based on the citation above, QI tentatively credits Theodor Reik with formulating this saying.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
Continue reading History Does Not Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes
|↑1||2011 June 19, New York Times, Section: Money and Business/Financial Desk, Funny, but I’ve Heard This Market Song Before by Jeff Sommer, Quote Page BU.5, New York. (ProQuest)|
|↑2||1965, Curiosities of the Self: Illusions We Have about Ourselves by Theodor Reik, Essay 3: The Unreachables: The Repetition Compulsion in Jewish History, Quote Page 133, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York. (Verified with scans)|