Don’t Put Down the Bartlett’s Just Yet!

64 Arts

And I’m not talking about pears, either.

Two go-to references for me in high school were Roget’s Thesaurus and Bartlett’s Quotations. Add in a copy of Webster’s for the obligatory “The dictionary defines accomplishment as…” essay beginning and you’d have the trifecta of ways to b.s. a paper.

Tell me, have you ever thought of Bartlett or Roget since then? (College excluded.)

But there’s more to quotations that just pithy essay fodder (no, really), which is why we’ve got one more quotation art to handle before moving on:

33 Quoting the classics in answering questions.

Probably the easiest example I can give of this is to paraphrase the infamous star-crossed love story…

Honey, you’ve got to listen to reason, you can’t be into him, he’s a Montague!

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

She could have just said (to herself, because this was all monologue) I don’t care what his name is or he’s not just his daddy’s name or even pfft, we’ll just change his name later, no biggie–you get the point.

Point is, by saying it in a deep and meaningful way–and preferably with deep, meaningful words that someone else immortalized, thus giving them more weight and credibility–you sound, well, deep and meaningful. And maybe a little pretentious, if used too often, but still deep and meaningful for the time being.

Which brings me back to Bartlett’s Quotations. Did you know the entire thing is available online, along with scads of other awesome references all at (This is not an advertisement, this is just me passing along a helpful tip.)

Now, I hear you thinking (yes, really) what good are quotes to me: I’m all done with writing essays and my kids think I’m still pretty much a genius so, you know, why bother?

Aside from sounding spiffy when you’re talking with your grown-up friends, here’s a short list and ways quotes can come in handy on the day-to-day:

  • blog post prompts
  • journaling prompts
  • scrapbook elements
  • art prompts
  • pithy sayings to put on your walls
  • your eventual Jeopardy! tryouts
  • things to put on the inside or outside of handmade cards
  • when nothing else you’ve got in your head sounds right

But the most important reason to keep a quotable reference handy is that quotes, by their very nature of being known and often-used, convey understanding between you and someone else. Even if all you’re quoting is Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, you’re still finding a common ground with other’s who know where you’re coming from, based on a shared bit of history.

To Quote, or Not to Quote–IS There a Question?

64 Arts

We move on from conundrums and onto quotations–lots of talkie bits in this section of the Arts–more specifically:

29 The art of completing a quotation (pratimala)

This reminds me of an early episode of Charmed where, to cover a generational gap, one character says to another something that leads into a back-and-forth recitation of a bit of Shakespeare (after some search I found it to be from As You Like It, Act III, Scene 2).

The speech in question starts at 1:39. (Direct link for the feedreaders) I watch too much television.

The point is, two strangers found a common ground through a shared knowledge and appreciation of literature.

These days, unless you spend a lot of time around academia, quoting Shakespeare or other arcane information might not get you very far. But fear not! There are plenty of contemporary sources of quotes in movies, songs, books and, yes, television shows.

And sometimes it doesn’t even take a full quote. I was at a party at a sci-fi convention and mentioned Otter Pops (the mystery drink of the evening was reminding me of it). All of a sudden this big, tall dude that I think they called Ogre bellowed “who said Otter Pops? Otter Pops were awesome” or something like that and high-fived me.

Just yesterday I saw two articles that take the idea of of quotations from our ancient lists of arts into the 21st century, to a blogger-specific level.

Why do quotes work as touchstones? Because we recognize them. We’re not trying to pass if off as our own, just a shared affinity for the material. It comes down to respect.

When we respect the source material, we’re proud to say where it came from. Why should our blogs and websites be any different?

  1. If you want to share something, share it in a way people will know how to find more of it.
  2. If you want to use something of someone else’s, ask permission.
  3. If you don’t want to be bothered, create something yourself.

I think it’s pretty simple, yes?

Do you have a favorite quote? Leave it (and where it’s from!) in the comments.