Friday, 26 February 2016

Marie Corelli is no more: long live John Anster

Previously on my 'About' page, I had cited a quote by Marie Corelli - whom I knew had misattributed a triplet to Goethe - which was “Seize this very minute. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power, magic in it”, which I had referenced as "(misattributing Goethe, 1905 p. 31)".

Interestingly the Quote Investigator, Garson O'Toole, has just researched this very triplet. After some extensive research, Garson reports that the "1835 text from John Anster was distinctive enough that he should be credited with its authorship; although, one should also note that he was inspired by a passage in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 'Faust'."

Garson also notes that the word "Whatever" is, in the original, "What", so if we want to be accurate, we need to word this as 'What'. There are also some punctuation errors, and the first half of the first line is missing ("
Are you in earnest?", then "seize this very minute").

Thus I should either amend my quote reference to "(Corelli, misattributing Goethe, 1905, p. 31, after Anster, 1835, p. 15)", and leave the 'Whatever' in place and punctuation errors in place; or I should change my citation to "(Anster, 1835, p. 15, translating Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 'Faust: eine Tragödie', 1808
)", and change the 'Whatever' to 'What' and correct the punctuation.

I have had a think about what would be appropriate for my About page, and have decided to take the second option. I have changed the paragraph to:
A leadership act takes place when, in the words of John Anster, we “seize this very minute- What you can do, or dream you can, begin it, Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it” (1835, p. 15, translating Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 'Faust: eine Tragödie', 1808).
But I feel a pang of loss for Marie Corelli :-(


  • Anster, J. (1835). Faustus, A Dramatic Mystery; The Bride of Corinth; The First Walpurgis Night, Translated from the German of Goethe, and Illustrated with Notes. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longman (p. 15)
  • Corelli, M. (1905). The Spirit of Work in The Daily Mail (Editors) The Queens Christmas Carol: An anthology of poems, stories, essays, drawings and music by British authors, artists and composers. Ballantyne Press (p. 31)
  • The Quote Investigator .(2016). What You Can Do, or Dream You Can, Begin It; Boldness Has Genius, Power, and Magic in It.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Thanks for your feedback. The elves will post it shortly.