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Does Goodreads Care About Its Bogus Quotations?

01/10/2016 08:34 am ET | Updated Jan 10, 2017

Back in November, I contacted Goodreads to let them know that the top quotation by George Eliot is bogus:

It is never too late to be what you might have been.

Yes, you've seen it attributed to her everywhere: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, t-shirts, kitchen magnets, mugs, bookmarks, tote bags, tattoos. But there's no source.

I read George Eliot in college religiously, and she was a major inspiration to me as a budding writer. So the first time I saw the quote it felt off to me -- a bit too peppy, more like something from a Hallmark greeting card.

I poked around the Internet, and though it's inescapable, there's no attribution. Nobody records it as a comment she made, it's not something she wrote in her diary, and it doesn't appear anywhere in her writing.

That's been proven by Eliot scholars, as reported in the New Yorker. It's also been researched by a great web site, Quote Investigator, which shows a long history of misquotation.

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My contact at Goodreads asked me to post on the "Librarians page" and said the team would investigate.

I did, but what's to investigate? That's already been done by scholars who I imagine have more expertise than the intrepid Sherlocks at Goodreads.

The bogus quote is still there. I guess they either have a case of the "slows" as Lincoln said about General McClellan -- or it doesn't matter to them that Goodreads is a treasure trove of bogus quotations.

Lev Raphael is the author of The Edith Wharton Murders and 24 other books of fiction and non-fiction.