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Origins of quote: "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup."

This looks like a spoof of the quote from The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien: Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. It comes from The Fellowship of ...
Mithical's user avatar
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33 votes
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Story where professor claims a step in a proof "is obvious" when it is far from obvious

This is a well-known piece of mathematical folklore that has been “told about most teachers of any great reputation” (Norman Beers, quoted below) and so we cannot take seriously any particular ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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28 votes
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Where did Asimov say this quote, about women becoming lawyers vs doctors or engineers because math was not required?

Asimov indeed wrote this. It's from his editorial "Feminism," published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Mid-December 1988: Some time ago, I met a young woman who introduced ...
Ubik's user avatar
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27 votes

What is the source of "You can achieve a lot with hate, but even more with love" (Shakespeare?)

This is from Émile Montégut’s translation of Romeo and Juliet: Roméo. — Hélas! pourquoi faut-il que l’amour, dont la vue est toujours couverte d’un bandeau, puisse sans yeux trouver le chemin qui ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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25 votes

Does Don Quijote in fact say "Facts are the enemy of truth"?

As the OP noted, this quote does not appear in Don Quijote de la Mancha by Cervantes. It does, however, appear in a different version of Quijote: the musical based on Cervantes' work, with libretto by ...
Clara Díaz Sanchez's user avatar
25 votes
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Did Philip Larkin use a swearword while quoting from Pym's Excellent Women?

Edited to add screenshots of parts of the letter in question at the end of this answer. The most likely answer is (e), something else entirely. The heading to this letter says that it was transcribed ...
verbose's user avatar
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23 votes
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Where does this Federico Garcia Lorca quote come from? Is it a fake?

This is a quote from an interview he gave in 1931. Traigo preparados cuatro libros. De teatro. De poesía. Y de impresiones neoyorkinas, el que puede titularse : la ciudad, interpretación personal, ...
Gilles 'SO- stop being evil''s user avatar
22 votes
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No mayonnaise in Ireland?

The phrase comes from a story by humorist Will Stanton that appeared in the May 1971 issue of Reader's Digest. The narrator claims that he is subject to "a kind of slip-of-the-ear," leading ...
verbose's user avatar
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20 votes

Origin of “Good books are the warehouses of ideas”, attributed to H. G. Wells on commemorative £2 coin?

TL;DR: It’s a typographical error: for “ideas” read “ideals”! “Ideals!” said my uncle; “certainly Ideals. Of course one must have ideals, else life would be bare materialism. Bare fact alone, naked ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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20 votes
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Source of quote about businessmen conspiring when they meet

This is from The Wealth of Nations (1776) by Adam Smith: People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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17 votes

What is the background of the epigram "I'm not a nitpicker nor a nitpicker's son, but I'll pick your nits 'til the nitpicker comes"?

This seems to be a bowdlerization of a well-known tongue-twister: Repeat 3 times: “I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s son, and I’m only plucking pheasants till the pheasant plucker ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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17 votes
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"There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings" — where does this Dostoyevsky quote come from?

I believe that this derives, via a game of whispers, from a line in The Idiot, where Ippolit Terentyev says: — Нет, а за то, что недостоин своего страдания. Fyodor Dostoevsky (1869). The Idiot, part ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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16 votes

"There are three sorts of people: those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea." Did Aristotle really say this?

I found a French version of the quote on histoire-genealogie.com, where it was attributed to Plato: « Il y a trois sortes d’hommes : les vivants, les morts, et ceux qui vont en mer » (Platon : ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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15 votes
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Source of quote: "Speaking the truth that somebody wants you not to publish is journalism. Everything else is marketing."

This quote has a long history and its true origins are obscure. I began my investigation of this question by doing a web search for quote speaking truth wants publish journalism marketing. In the ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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15 votes
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What is the source of "You can achieve a lot with hate, but even more with love" (Shakespeare?)

Since you say the quote isn't exact, the best I can remember is the following from Romeo and Juliet (emphasis mine): Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still, Should, without eyes, see ...
CinCout's user avatar
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15 votes
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Is the opening quote in Michael Crichton’s “Airframe” real or fictional?

It’s a fabrication. Rather than trying to verify the existence (or not) of John Lawton, the simpler route is to try to verify the existence (or not) of The American Association of Broadcast ...
D. A. Hosek's user avatar
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15 votes

Story where professor claims a step in a proof "is obvious" when it is far from obvious

Richard P. Feynman tells a similar story (from personal experience at Princeton graduate school) in his book Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman (in the section headed ‘A Different Box Of Tools’): I ...
gidds's user avatar
  • 451
15 votes
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“Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.” Is this a genuine TS Eliot quote?

It is not a word-for-word match, but in his 1949 work The Cocktail Party, Eliot wrote: Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. The full text is ...
Clara Díaz Sanchez's user avatar
15 votes

Did George Bernard Shaw write the poem "Living Grave"?

The earliest appearance of this poem that I was able to locate is in Religion & Peace (1957) by S. C. Diwaker: In this regard the words of George Bernard Shaw are ever memorable: We are the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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14 votes

Who first said this quote about how we only sleep safely because "rough men stand ready" to fight on our behalf?

Actually? Neither. In conclusion, QI believes that this saying was introduced by Richard Grenier who was attempting to provide a pithy representation of an idea he ascribed to George Orwell. ...
Shokhet's user avatar
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13 votes
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Did Stevenson really claim to have been inspired by brownies?

Yep. Stevenson writes in his A Chapter on Dreams, which you can see a book scan at that link, and a text version at Project Gutenburg: Well, as regards the dreamer, I can answer that, for he is no ...
Mithical's user avatar
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13 votes

Story where professor claims a step in a proof "is obvious" when it is far from obvious

Gareth Rees has done a excellent job of finding similar jokes, as well as the first time they were written down. However, he doesn't really tell you the reason the joke is funny. In mathematical ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
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13 votes
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When or where did Gustave Flaubert say that Alexander Pushkin's work was "dull"?

Thanks to CDR's answer I was able to find the original source. It is the article Воспоминанія объ И. С. Тургеневѣ (Recollections of I.S. Turgenev) by Nikolaj Vasil'evič Berg, in issue 14 of the ...
David's user avatar
  • 146
12 votes

"It might be for years, and it might be for ever," - What is the original novel this quote appeared in?

Searching for your quoted phrase online brings up a number of results all of which place the words inside inverted commas, suggesting they are all quoting something, as you surmised. Among the results ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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12 votes
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Original Russian text of this review of Crime and Punishment

I googled for "мудрость сердца" (the wisdom of the heart) and "достоевский" and found a book "Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. His life and works" (comp. V. Pokrovsky), and ...
Andra's user avatar
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12 votes
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From which book or essay are these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson? "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year..."

This passage is assembled (in the common fashion of inspirational texts) from bits and pieces, mostly but not entirely by Emerson. Let’s take it sentence by sentence. One of the illusions is that the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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12 votes

Aslan as an alternative version of Jesus as the form in which he may have appeared in an alternative reality?

Already answered over here: In-universe, is Aslan actually Jesus? (my highest-voted question on the SE network). There's two explicit quotes from Lewis's letters, and one very heavy implication in the ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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12 votes
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Identify Source of Quote on Running Out of Breath and Commas

Looks like you're thinking of Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge (1865), which is available on Wikisource: "And did the saint do it?" asked Gretel, delighted, well ...
Mithical's user avatar
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12 votes

What is the source for C.S. Lewis' quote "A good book should be entertaining"?

This is a slightly mangled version of a phrase from Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism (1961). Here’s the whole paragraph: In characterising the two sorts of reading I have deliberately avoided the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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