The internet seems crazy about this quote, but nobody reports a reliable source. Where was it originally written or spoken? (I.e., which book, interview, or essay?)

  • 2
    I don’t know, but when I did a Google books search for the phrase, I found it on page 571 of The Overland Monthly Vol. XIV, published in 1875, twenty years before Wilson was born: On the other hand, it is said that “no two persons ever read the same book or see the same picture”
    – Chaim
    May 10, 2017 at 19:20
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    By definition, no two persons find it in the same place.
    – Joshua
    May 10, 2017 at 23:39

1 Answer 1


The quote is likely to be a slight variation of the following:

In a sense, one can never read the book that the author originally wrote, and one can never read the same book twice.

This is from Wilson's The Triple Thinkers (Amazon link). You can see the section of interest in the Preface, page ix. Conveniently, the preview includes that page, so you can view it for free (although without as much context as you might like).

The source can be found relatively easily, with a clear citation, from Wikiquote. It's always worth checking there, or searching through it using Google to see if you can find an entry in Wikiquote—they tend to be quite reliable.

  • 3
    Check here - this exact quote was said 20 years before Wilson. May 10, 2017 at 19:23
  • @Gallifreyan Indeed, perhaps it's a misattribution from there, or perhaps Wilson was inspired by that work when writing. I would be very interested in some investigation into whether Wilson was aware of that work, or whether it's just a co-incidence that Wilson's quote happened to end up exactly the same as that.
    – Aurora0001
    May 10, 2017 at 19:26

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