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Did Victor Hugo really say this?
July 30, 2014 4:00 PM   Subscribe

"Initiative is doing the right thing without being told." -- Victor Hugo but wait, did he really say that? If so, where? Because all I find online is a lot of dubious quotation sites with no specific attribution.
posted by HotToddy to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It seems to be Elbert Hubbard. It's in his Love, Life and Work (1905):
The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for but one thing. And that is Initiative. What is Initiative? I'll tell you: It is doing the right thing without being told. But next to doing the right thing without being told is to do it when you are told once.
It seems that it also appeared a couple years earlier, credited to "fra Elbertus", in The Philistine (vol. 18, 1903), a periodical produced by Hubbard and a couple colleagues, but I can't find a good link for that.
posted by stebulus at 4:37 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


In general, if all one finds online is a lot of dubious quotation sites with no specific attribution, it's pretty safe to assume a quote is bogus.
posted by languagehat at 4:46 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, I can't find the quote if I search ("initiative" "victor hugo" citation) in French in Google.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:40 PM on July 31, 2014


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