This Is My Truth, Now Tell Me Yours

Aneurin Bevan? Jennie Lee? Michael Foot? Friedrich Nietzsche? Zarathustra? Manic Street Preachers? John Strachey? Hubert Griffith? Herbert L. Matthews? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A U.K politician expressed a willingness to hear alternative viewpoints by using the following expression:

This is my truth; tell me yours.

British Labour Party leader Aneurin Bevan has received credit for this remark. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: There is substantive evidence that Aneurin Bevan employed this statement. The second volume of a comprehensive biography of Bevan by Michael Foot appeared in 1973, and Foot attributed the saying to Bevan. Interestingly, Foot also alluded to a precursor remark by the famous German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Often he would protest furiously: ‘O God why did you make the world so beautiful and the life of man so short?’ But he would also say, with Nietzsche, ‘this is my truth, now tell me yours’, thus invoking his special gift of imaginative tolerance.

Jennie Lee who was married to Bevan from 1934 up to his death in 1960 also attributed the saying to Bevan. See the 1980 citation below. Admittedly, the ascriptions from Foot and Lee appeared after the death of Bevan which reduced their probative value.

Here are additional selected citations and comments.

Continue reading This Is My Truth, Now Tell Me Yours

Notes:

  1. 1973, Aneurin Bevan: A Biography by Michael Foot, Volume 2: 1945-1960, Chapter 17: 1960, Quote Page 657, Davis-Poynter, London. (Verified with scans)

Suffering from Delusions of Adequacy

Who was speaking: Walter F. Kerr? Michael Foot? Erskine Johnson? Charlton Heston? David Brin?

grandeur08Who was criticized: Jay Robinson? Dwight Eisenhower? Charlton Heston?

Dear Quote Investigator: The complaint that someone is exhibiting “delusions of grandeur” has become a cliché. However, a clever modification of the phrase was memorably employed by a theater critic who was unhappy with an ostentatious performance:

The actor was suffering from delusions of adequacy.

Would you please reveal the name of the critic and the performer?

Quote Investigator: In 1951 the Pulitzer-winning drama critic Walter F. Kerr writing in the “New York Herald Tribune” reviewed a play on Broadway called “Buy Me Blue Ribbons”. Kerr noted that the main actor in the production had recently been dismissed from another key position, and the thespian’s reaction was eccentric: 1

Jay Robinson producer and virtually star of “Buy Me Blue Ribbons,” is a young man of twenty-one who was last season dispossessed of a leading role in a play which he had himself financed. Mr. Robinson is apparently not bitter about this. He has had Sumner Locke Elliott write a play for him a comedy about a young man who is similarly thrown out of his own production, and he is offering it, for his mortification and for ours, at the Empire Theatre.

Kerr’s critical judgement was harsh, and he employed the phrase under investigation to lambaste Robinson. Boldface has been added to excerpts:

Mr. Robinson is not up to the course he has set for himself. In the play, the character concludes by giving up his dreams of overnight stardom and deciding to learn his trade from the bottom up. All Mr. Robinson can honestly do now is to take his own advice. At the moment, he is suffering from delusions of adequacy.

The passage above contained the earliest instance located by QI; hence, Kerr was probably responsible for its coinage.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Suffering from Delusions of Adequacy

Notes:

  1. 1951 October 18, New York Herald Tribune, The Theaters: Won’t Win Any Ribbons by Walter F. Kerr, Note: “Walter F. Kerr, drama critic of “The Commonweal,” will be the guest critic of the Herald Tribune during the fall season”, (Review of the play “Buy Me Blue Ribbons”), Quote Page 20, New York, New York. (ProQuest)