Yogi Berra? Simone Signoret? Peter De Vries? Tommy Handley & Ronald Frankau? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Holidays sometimes make me nostalgic. They also remind me of the following clever quip:
Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.
These words are often attributed to the famed baseball quotemaster Yogi Berra, but recently I learned of an autobiography by the prominent French actress Simone Signoret titled:
Nostalgia Isn’t What It Used To Be.
Could you explore the origin of this saying?
Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence of this expression known to QI was published in a 1959 novel titled “The Tents of Wickedness” by Peter De Vries. This citation is given in the key reference work “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs” from Yale University Press. De Vries was a popular humorist who worked at “The New Yorker” magazine and published many novels: 1 2
No. Nostalgia, as his Uncle Joshua had said, ain’t what it used to be.
Which made it pretty complete. Nothing was what it used to be — not even nostalgia.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1959, The Tents of Wickedness by Peter De Vries, Quote Page 6, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified on paper) ↩
- 2012, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro Page 179, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper) ↩