Bibliographic Information for Quotes
November 21, 2005 2:51 PM   Subscribe

How would one go about finding the specific sources (names of the book, page numbers, etc.) of quotes off of sites like these.

These quote directory sites are great, but they only list the name of the person who said it, not any of the related bibliographic information. Any ideas?
posted by JPowers to Education (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe Google Book Search?
posted by smackfu at 2:58 PM on November 21, 2005

Sourcing quotations is hard. Many of the large quote sites just take quotes wholesale from other sites and those sites don't even have original attributions. The good news is that Google's Book Search can sometimes help you out in these instances because you can search for quotes inside of books. Sometimes this gives you the same old crap, but they are more likely to have sources.'s "inside the book" feature does this as well. Otherwise, you're stuck with more reputable quotation guides like Bartlett's [1919 version is online for older quotes] or the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
posted by jessamyn at 3:00 PM on November 21, 2005

If it helps at all, the three quotes that I'm looking for the bibliographic information on are all from Nietzsche and read as follows:

"Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth."

"When a hundred men stand together, each of them loses his mind and gets another one.”

"Courageous, untroubled, mocking and violent-that is what Wisdom wants us to be."

I can't, for the life of me, find the text in which Nietzsche wrote these.
posted by JPowers at 4:37 PM on November 21, 2005

In that case, you can also search the Gutenberg texts for close analogs of your quotes. I'm pretty sure that the last one is in Thus Spake Zarathustra, except it's quoted as "Courageous, unconcerned, scornful, coercive--so wisdom wisheth us; she is a woman, and ever loveth only a warrior."
posted by jessamyn at 5:04 PM on November 21, 2005

As you've found, translated quotes are very hard, since the source is probably a single translation rather than the original material.
posted by smackfu at 6:16 PM on November 21, 2005

Speaking as the owner of one of those sites, I'll echo what's already been said here: It's very hard to find detailed attributions. Many quotation sites do take quotes wholesale from others (we don't, but we do track the copies of ours, and they are many.)

Unfortunately, we find most of our quotations in a quotation book, or online, or see it quoted elsewhere. We don't always know the original source, although we add them when we find them. We're gradually adding as much details as we can, and unfortunately that means looking through shelves full of books. It's amazing how much information isn't on the Internet yet...
posted by mmoncur at 9:52 PM on November 21, 2005

In the future, you can simply restrict yourself to wikiquote, where all quotes are sourced!
posted by Paris Hilton at 11:16 PM on November 21, 2005

(Well, either sourced, or marked as 'attributed')
posted by Paris Hilton at 11:18 PM on November 21, 2005

By the way, an easy way to source quotes that you see is to look up the author on wikiquote. For example, do you wonder where the quote:
We have in fact, two kinds of morality, side by side: one that we preach, but do not practice, and another that we practice, but seldom preach.
then type into your browser. and search for the quote on that page.

In this case however, it dosn't work. But you get the idea.
posted by Paris Hilton at 11:25 PM on November 21, 2005

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