Quotations for our Time | Reviews
Compiled by Dr Laurence Peter
Souvenir Press paperback £12.99 544 pages
'The basis for inclusion was the idea that each quote contained and the relationship of that idea to our time.'
'real gems of brevity, wit and content from little-known sources'
'But the greatest joy of this book is the serendipity of dipping into it and finding something entertaining and often unfamiliar.'
'the book provides a highly enjoyable romp through the best wit and wisdom of our times'
The compiler of this collection is the man who gave the world the Peter Principle, the classic law of managerial incompetence, which states that, in a work situation, people are promoted to their level of incompetence. We can observe the truth of this neat observation all around us.
Laurence Peter’s Quotations for Our Time is a highly personal collection of quotations, collected by him over many years. Unlike the many other books of quotations available, this one focuses on ideas rather than words. The basis for inclusion was the idea that each quote contained and the relationship of that idea to our time. Peter comments in his Introduction: ‘What evolved was a collage of living ideas about the future of our planet earth, ecology, peace, technology, human beliefs, and other subjects related to our present condition.’ The book is also distinctive because the choice is so personal and idiosyncratic. The compiler has simply included what he felt like, as long as it had contemporary relevance, which means that the reader can come across real gems of brevity, wit and content from little-known sources.
Quotations for Our Time contains over 5,000 quotations, with a useful alphabetical arrangement within a large number of subject areas, from Ability and Animals, through Marriage and Riots, to Vice and Zoos. There’s also an index of names and authors, if you already know the author of the quote you’re looking for.
But the greatest joy of this book is the serendipity of dipping into it and finding something entertaining and often unfamiliar. It’s really good for browsing. Two cynical comments on writing will give the flavour:
‘Someday I hope to write a book where the royalties will pay for the copies I give away.’
‘If you have one strong idea, you can’t help repeating it and embroidering it. Sometimes I think that authors should write one book and then be put in a gas chamber.’
John P Marquand
I recommend this handy book for any writer’s bookshelf. If you need to find a good quote to include in your work, you will surely encounter it here. If you want something to get you thinking, you will come across it in these pages. If you have to make a speech, Quotations for Our Time is full of amusing and quotable titbits. And if all you want is an entertaining diversion to while away an hour or two, the book provides a highly enjoyable romp through the best wit and wisdom of our times.
|© Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. 2003||Reviewed by Chris Holifield|