Chapter & Verse

A correspondence corner for not-so-famous lost words

Leslie Gillis requests title and author for a book that ends, “I don’t know. I’m just a city boy myself”—in response to a question about whether flowers popping up through the snow are crocuses.

“iron filings” (March-April). Alison Harris recalled this fable about steel filings and a magnet from Extraordinary Tales by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares (1971, edited and translated by Anthony Kerrigan; page 96). Their source, Hesketh Pearson’s The Life of Oscar Wilde (1946; page 212), credits Richard Le Gallienne’s The Romantic ’90s (1926; pages 254ff).

“thoughts of great men” (March-April). Mary Ann Brewin found no citation for this alleged Mark Twain remark, but recommended for many other sourced comments.

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

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