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Quoting the wrong Shakespeare


Everyone quotes Shakespeare and most of the time they don’t know they are doing it. Everyday language is littered with phrases popularized by the Bard in his writing.

French presidential candidate François Hollande made a key speech on Sunday and, indeed, quoted Shakespeare, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The “universal message” he wished to convey, Mr Hollande told the crowd, was best summed up by Shakespeare’s great words: “They failed because they did not start with a dream.”

Sadly, he quoted the wrong Shakespeare. Hollande quoted Nicholas Shakespeare, the Daily Telegraph’s chief book reviewer. Nicholas Shakespeare is apparently a descendant of William’s grandfather, so he was close.

The quote comes from Nicholas Shakespeare’s 1989 novel, The Vision of Elena Silves. It’s a story of a Maoist revolutionary who becomes a terrorist for Peru’s Marxist guerrilla band, Shining Path.

Probably not the connection that Hollande was hoping to make!

This sort of thing is easily done. Karl Marx/Groucho Marx would be a mix-up with fascinating results.

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Richard Davies

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