Chapter and Verse

Correspondence on not-so-famous lost words

Vann McGee would like to discover the origin of the following declension: “I am firm. You are stubborn. He or she is mule-headed.” He has heard it attributed to Bertrand Russell, but acknowledges that that might be just a rumor.


Richard Barbieri hopes someone can identify the book by a contemporary social scientist that begins with the thesis that everyone in the field is seeking a definition of what makes us human, but that it is unwise to publish one’s theory until late in life, so that one may die before critics take the theory apart. The book, he adds, “naturally continued with the author’s theory, but I forget what that was.”


“Learning about normal functioning from extreme cases” (September-October 2009). Camille Norton traced this assertion by Sigmund Freud to his essay “Femininity,” in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, translated and edited by James Strachey (1965). The quotation reads: “Pathology has always done us the service of making discernible by isolation and exaggeration conditions that would remain concealed in a normal state” (page 107).


“I have spent sleepless nights that others might rest” (November-December 2009). Charles Miller, who submitted the original query, curious about a quotation in an essay by the late Harvard Law School professor Paul Freund, writes that he has “discovered a ‘near enough’ source for the internal quotation. The ‘German historian’ referred to is Theodor Mommsen. The quotation is from a eulogy to Mommsen composed in 1903 by the theologian Adolf von Harnack: ‘His sleepless nights have brightened our day.’ Harnack himself was quoting Goethe on Schiller.”

Send inquiries and answers to “Chapter and Verse,” Harvard Magazine, 7 Ware Street, Cambridge 02138, or via e-mail to [email protected].

You might also like

The Roman Empire’s Cosmopolitan Frontier

Genetic analysis reveals a culture enriched from both sides of the Danube.

Tobacco Smoke and Tuberculosis

Harvard researchers illuminate a longstanding epidemiological connection. 

Discourse and Discipline

Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences broaches two tough topics.

Most popular

All but the Art

After a multiyear renovation, Harvard Art Museums make ready for a November reopening.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Fall travel to New England’s seacoast offers art, history, biking, and great restaurants

Unleashing Harvard’s Art Museums

Harvard’s Art Museums reopen, poised to fulfill their pedagogical purpose.

More to explore

Illustration of a box containing a laid-off fossil fuel worker's office belongings

Preparing for the Energy Transition

Expect massive job losses in industries associated with fossil fuels. The time to get ready is now.

Apollonia Poilâne standing in front of rows of fresh-baked loaves at her family's flagship bakery

Her Bread and Butter

A third-generation French baker on legacy loaves and the "magic" of baking

Illustration that plays on the grade A+ and the term Ai

AI in the Academy

Generative AI can enhance teaching and learning but augurs a shift to oral forms of student assessment.