Saturday, June 16, 2012

Does this Anthony Burgess quotation exist?

One of the two epigraphs to David Foster Wallace's early story, "Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way", is as follows: "As we are all solipsists, and all die, the world dies with us. Only very minor literature aims at apocalypse -- Anthony Burgess" (from p. 232 of Girl With the Curious Hair). What a great, and rich, quotation. So, when I doing some doodling around with parts of that story, I wanted to see the context for the Burgess quotation, and I couldn't find an original reference. But, I am not terribly well oriented with Burgess' work, so I thought I would put this out to the rest of you: Does this quotation exist?

I own a t-shirt that has the following quotation from Adorno: "Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they're only animals." One of my favorite things about this quotation is that it doesn't exist. Adorno never said it (though he said a few things like it). According to Witt-Stahl, the false quotation attributed to Adorno comes from PETA's Holocaust On Your Plate campaign, and the only justification given being poor organization by PETA researchers. (h/t to the Witt-Stahl article goes to this wonderful article by Marco Maurizi). Anyway, in some of my early grad school conference papers, I used this false quotation, and I have been a little hyper sensitive ever since then.