Who wrote this quote?
October 28, 2008 10:00 PM   Subscribe

I can't figure out the exact quote and who wrote it. It goes something like this but I'm not completely sure - "The world either breaks the heart or turns it to stone" My suspicion is Rochefoucauld, once again shaky.
posted by bodywithoutorgans to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Did you just see it in the NYT article, first page, in a quote by Allan Sandage?
posted by HopperFan at 11:14 PM on October 28, 2008

It appears in Google Books in that form in a 1978 novel by Taylor Caldwell, cited as a mother's aphorism. I can't find an earlier instance.

There are many similar partial matches, though.

"To be Irish is to know that the world will break your heart." (or "I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know the world is going to break your heart eventually.") -- Daniel Patrick Moynihan, after the JFK assassination

"Too long a sacrifice will turn a heart to stone." -- Yeats

"O, poor Little Jesus This world gonna break Your heart. There'll be no place to lay Your head, my Lord" -- the spiritual "Poor Little Jesus"

Personally, I think it's a misheard saying. The two choices are almost the same thing.
posted by dhartung at 1:03 AM on October 29, 2008

Not to nitpick, but the line from Yeats goes:

"Too long a sacrifice / Can make a stone of the heart."
posted by FunGus at 2:10 AM on October 29, 2008

'The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.'

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms

posted by Hugobaron at 4:59 AM on October 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe this one?

'I'm leaving this world where either the heart must break or turn as hard as iron.'

- Sebastian-Roch Nicholas Chamfort

Google turns up several varying translations of the quotation (I also saw bronze, maybe stone is used too?), but this form is the epigraph (and title-inspiration) of James Mawdsley's book The Heart Must Break: The Fight for Democracy and Truth in Burma.
posted by roombythelake at 1:29 PM on October 29, 2008

Response by poster: Yes! That is it.
Thank you roombythelake. You can see how I got my French aphorists mixed up.
posted by bodywithoutorgans at 2:32 PM on October 29, 2008

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