The Aim of Education Is the Knowledge, Not of Facts, But of Values

William Ralph Inge? William S. Burroughs? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following statement has been attributed to two very different people: William Ralph Inge and William S. Burroughs:

The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.

Inge was a professor at Cambridge and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Burroughs was a member of the Beat Generation best known for authoring “Naked Lunch”. Should either of these figures receive credit for this remark?

Quote Investigator: In 1917 the collection “Cambridge Essays on Education” appeared. Inge wrote a piece titled “The Training of the Reason” which included the following passage. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

The ideal object of education is that we should learn all that it concerns us to know, in order that thereby we may become all that it concerns us to be. In other words, the aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values. Values are facts apprehended in their relation to each other, and to ourselves. The wise man is he who knows the relative values of things. In this knowledge, and in the use made of it, is summed up the whole conduct of life.

William S. Burroughs was born in 1914; hence, he clearly did not coin this expression. He died in 1997, and he implausibly received credit in 2005 as indicated further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Aim of Education Is the Knowledge, Not of Facts, But of Values

Notes:

  1. 1917, Cambridge Essays on Education, Edited by A. C. Benson (Master of Magdalene College), The Training of the Reason by W. R. Inge (Dean of St. Paul’s), Start Page 12, Quote Page 12, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. (Google Books Full View) link

No One Owns Life, But Anyone Who Can Pick Up a Frying Pan Owns Death

William S. Burroughs? Apocryphal?

pan08Dear Quote Investigator: Pronouncements about the dichotomy of life and death are often somber, serious, and banal. However, William S. Burroughs, the postmodernist author of “Naked Lunch” and “Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict”, apparently crafted the following eccentric statement:

No one owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.

Is this genuine? You are my last hope for finding a citation.

Quote Investigator: The Summer 1959 issue of the short-lived periodical “Big Table” printed an article titled “Anyone Who Can Pick Up a Frying Pan Owns Death” by Alan Ansen which discussed William S. Burroughs and his writings. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

A tall ectomorph—in Tangier the boys called him El Hombre Invisible—his persona constituted by a magic triad of fedora, glasses and raincoat rather than by a face, his first presence is that of a con man down on his luck. But that impression soon gives way to the feeling that, whatever his luck may be, yours has been very good. A cracker accent and use of jive talk fail to conceal incisive intelligence and a frightening seriousness. “No one owns life,” says Burroughs, “but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.”

Ansen and Burroughs were friends, and QI believes that Ansen heard the quotation directly from Burroughs.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading No One Owns Life, But Anyone Who Can Pick Up a Frying Pan Owns Death

Notes:

  1. 1959 Summer, Big Table, Number 2, “Anyone Who Can Pick Up a Frying Pan Owns Death” by Alan Ansen, Start Page 32, Quote Page 37, Published quarterly by Big Table, Inc., Chicago, Illinois. (Verified on paper)

They Haven’t Done Anything to My Book. It’s Right There on the Shelf

Raymond Chandler? James M. Cain? Alan Moore? William S. Burroughs? Larry Niven? Stephen King? Elmore Leonard? William Faulkner? Owen Sheers?

Dear Quote Investigator: I have heard the following anecdote told about Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Stephen King, and Elmore Leonard. A journalist once visited the house of a popular author who had sold the movie rights to several of his novels to Hollywood. The quality of the resultant movies had been lamented by critics. The reporter attempted to commiserate with the writer by saying that Hollywood had ruined his books, but the author led the visitor into his study and pointed to a bookshelf:

They haven’t done anything to my books. They’re still right there on the shelf. They’re fine.

Is this story accurate? Who were the participants?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence for this tale known to QI was published in the New York Times Book Review in March 1969. The influential cultural critic John Leonard visited James M. Cain at his home in Hyattsville, Maryland. Cain had written several best-selling books in the 1930s and 1940s including: “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, “Mildred Pierce”, and “Double Indemnity”. These works were transformed into movies of variable quality. Leonard reported on the remarks of Cain: 1

All the early novels were made into movies. (Hollywood made $12-million from Cain; Cain made $100,000.) He has seen only two of the movies made from his books. “There are some foods some people just don’t like. I just don’t like movies. People tell me, don’t you care what they’ve done to your book? I tell them, they haven’t done anything to my book. It’s right there on the shelf. They paid me and that’s the end of it.”

The citation above was located by top researcher Bill Mullins. In 1974 a book titled “Graham Greene: The Films of His Fiction” referenced the comments of Cain. The phrasing presented matched the version in the New York Times: 2

The American novelist James M. Cain once remarked that he had rarely gone to see the screen version of one of his novels. “People tell me, don’t you care what they’ve done to your book? I tell them, they haven’t done anything to my book. It’s right there on the shelf. They paid me and that’s the end of it.”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading They Haven’t Done Anything to My Book. It’s Right There on the Shelf

Notes:

  1. 1969 March 2, New York Times, Section: Book Review, The Wish of James M. Cain by John Leonard, Quote Page BR2, Column 3, New York. (ProQuest)
  2. 1974, Graham Greene: The Films of His Fiction by Gene D. Phillips, Series: Studies in Culture & Communication, Chapter 2, Quote Page 14, Teachers College Press, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. (Verified on paper)