Sinclair Lewis? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Whenever I hear someone attempting to diagnose the problems of the world I am reminded of the following amusingly recursive remark:
The trouble with this country is that there are too many people saying, “The trouble with this country is…”
Although I roughly remember the quotation I do not recall who said it. Can you tell me who is responsible for this quip?
Quote Investigator: The American writer and noble laureate Sinclair Lewis included a matching remark in his 1929 satirical novel “Dodsworth”. The words were spoken by a character named General Herndon. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
“The trouble with this country is,” observed Herndon, “that there’re too many people going about saying: ‘The trouble with this country is—–‘ And too many of us, who should be ruling the country, are crabbed by being called ‘General’ or ‘Colonel’ or ‘Doctor’ or that sort of thing. If you have a handle to your name, you have to be so jolly and democratic that you can’t control the mob.”
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1929 Copyright, Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis, Chapter 10, Quote Page 74, Reprint in 2000 by Amereon House, Mattituck, New York of original edition from Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York. (Verified with hardcopy) ↩