HAVING RECENTLY acquired a copy of the latest (16th) edition of "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations" (Justin Kaplan, general editor), a brief skim-through reveals some fascinating changes.
For one thing, the book's index seems almost as long as the text -- and that, indeed, is the case. The familiar quotations take up 791 pages; the indexed listing of these quotes runs a mind-boggling 608 pages.
There are more than 20,000 well-known (and not-so well-known) comments in the new edition. Many of the new entries are taken from modern-day popular culture. And there's a smattering of quotations from politicians of various shapes and sizes (Deng Xiaoping and Roman Hruska -- now there's an odd couple!)
Dr. Seuss is in there ("I meant what I said/And I said what I meant") as is Greta Garbo ("I want to be alone").
Liberace made it ("I cried all the way to the bank") and so did Abbie Hoffman ("Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger").
There are also a large number of quotations from the movies, such as Oliver Stone's "Greed is good! Greed is right! Greed works! Greed will save the U.S.A." and these classics from the film "Casablanca": "Here's looking at you kid" and "Play it, Sam."
How about a line from "Zippy the Pinhead" comic strip, "Are we having fun yet?"
Or a Woody Allen thought-provoker: "It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens."
Or "Beam me up, Scotty" (TV's "Star Trek"). Or "Thanks, I needed that" (from a TV commercial).
Or "If you build it, he will come" (from a book and a movie).
It's an enjoyable romp through quotes that stimulate forgotten memories. The 16th edition of "Familiar Quotations" (it has been 12 years since the last revision of John Bartlett's original 1855 reference book) was well worth the wait.
IF EVER THE bugle sounded retreat for the World War II generation, it did so near the end of President Clinton's recent speech on international economics at the American University in Washington.
"Look at the way our culture has merged technology and values," he said. "This is an expressive land that produced CNN and MTV. We were all born of the information age. This is a jazzy nation -- thank goodness, for my sake -- that created be-bop and hip-hop and all those other things. We are wired for real time."
Can you image General Ike, or maybe even young George Bush uttering such sentiments?
The closest thing to be-bop and hip-hop in their lexicon would have been jitterbug and swing, carried live through the wonders of radio and black-and-white TV.
Wired for real time?
No fax. No beepers. No remote TV cameras. No lap-tops.
Just the telegram and the telephone and the slide-rule -- primitive instruments all.