Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | August 8, 2008

A Curiosity

Here’s a curiosity for writers who wrestle with trying to find out who wrote what. Quotations are wonderful ways to illustrate points – to offer ‘seed ideas’ – and to start chapters or sections of a book. But every so often, finding out the true author of a quote turns into a detective hunt.

Take the very popular ‘Work like you don’t need the money.Dance like no one is watching…’ quotation. Who wrote it?  Here are some versions of it:

Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.
Mark Twain

Work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt, live like there is no tomorrow, dance like no one is watching.
Bono (U2)

You’ve got to live like there’s no tomorrow, love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching.
Chinese proverb

Love like you have never been hurt; work like you don’t need the money; and dance like no one is watching.
Grace Nation

Dance like no one is watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like no one is listening, Live like it’s heaven on earth.
William Purkey

If anyone is a Mark Twain fan and has read the quote in one of his books or letters, then I think that would clinch it!


Responses

  1. Sorry, but having read a fair bit of Twain that doesn’t sound like him at all.

    Particularly “Dance like nobody’s watching” – to me that sounds awfully modern, in this era of people dancing with themselves. In Twain’s time dancing would have been something done by two people, not just one.

    Also, the tone just isn’t Twain, in my opinion.

    But I could be wrong.


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