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Chapter and Verse

Correspondence on not-so-famous lost words

November-December 2012

Jack Holt seeks the source of “The most difficult part of attaining perfection is finding something to do for an encore” (regularly credited online to “Author unknown”).

Arnold Rosenberg hopes for leads to the origin of the aphorism “You like because of; you love in spite of.” Pointers are welcome.

Programming day (September-October). A tip from E.J. Barnes led (courtesy of Google and Wikipedia) to the identification of “Profession,” by Isaac Asimov. Published in the July 1957 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, it was subsequently reprinted in the author’s 1959 collection Nine Tomorrows: Tales of the Near Future. Barrie Greene was first to provide a link to one of the many online copies of the text.

“red Coke can in the snow” (July-August). Dorrie Bell noted, from Ngaio Marsh’s Clutch of Constables (1969): “I remember that on a walk…I looked into a dell and saw, deep down, an astonishing spot of scarlet. I thought: ‘Ah! A superb fungus secretly devouring the earth and the air.’…I went down to look more closely at it and found that it was a discarded fish-tin with a red label. Was it the less beautiful for my discovery?” Bell added, “I therefore infer that the trope of the red beautiful-trash item was common in the period and not just to be found in the Beat poets of San Francisco.”

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

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