Erasmus advised readers to learn quotations by heart and copy them everywhere: write them in the front and back of books; inscribe them on rings and cups; paint them on doors and walls, “even on the glass of a window.” Emerson noted that “in Europe, every church is a kind of book or bible, so covered is it with inscriptions and pictures.” In Arabic script as tall as a man, the Koran is quoted on the walls and domes of mosques.
We quote to admire, provoke, commemorate, dispute, play, and inspire. Quotations signal class, club, clique, and alma mater. They animate wit, relay prophecies, guide meditation, and accessorize fashion.
In Quotology Willis Goth Regier draws on world literature and contemporary events to show how vital quotations are, how they are collected and organized, and how deceptive they can be. He probes all these aspects, identifying fifty-nine types of quotations, including misquotations and anonymous sayings. Following the logic of quotology, Quotology concludes with famous last words.