- The truth is that the propensity of man to imitate what is before him is one of the strongest parts of his nature.
Physics and Politics (1872) ‘Nation-Making’ 1826–77 English economist and essayist:
- Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.
Theatre Arts May 1957 1904–80 English photographer: in
- It is sometimes necessary to repeat what we all know. All mapmakers should place the Mississippi in the same location, and avoid originality.
Mr Sammler's Planet (1969) 1915–2005 American novelist:
- The original writer is not he who refrains from imitating others, but he who can be imitated by none.
Le Génie du Christianisme (1802) pt. 2, bk. 1, ch. 3 1768–1848 French writer and diplomat:
- Every public action, which is not customary, either is wrong, or, if it is right, is a dangerous precedent. It follows that nothing should ever be done for the first time.
Microcosmographia Academica (1908) ch. 7 1874–1943 English academic:
- Be regular and orderly in your life, like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work. 1821–80 French novelist: letter to Gertrude Tennant, 25 December 1876
- Everything has been said before. But since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.
Le Traité du Narcisse (1892) 1869–1951 French novelist and critic:
- Let's have some new clichés. 1882–1974 American film producer: attributed, perhaps apocryphal
- When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. Originality is deliberate and forced, and partakes of the nature of a protest.
Passionate State of Mind (1955) 1902–83 American philosopher:
- What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.
Labels and Libels (1929) 1860–1954 English writer; Dean of St. Paul's, 1911–34:
- Posterity weaves no garlands for the actor.
often quoted as ‘Posterity weaves no garlands for imitators’
Wallenstein's Camp (1798) prologue 1759–1805 German dramatist and poet:
- Originality consists in thinking for yourself, not in thinking differently from other people.
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1874) ch. 2 1829–94 English lawyer:
- I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.
a similar quotation in forms such as ‘Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail’ has been widely attributed to Emerson from the late 20th century, but is not found in his works
The Open Court August 1903 1875–1964 American poet: in
- Nothing has yet been said that's not been said before.
c.190–159 bc Roman comic dramatist: Eunuchus prologue l. 41
- What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.
Notebooks (1935) 1835–1910 American writer:
- Never forget what I believe was observed to you by Coleridge, that every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished. 1770–1850 English poet: letter to Lady Beaumont, 21 May 1807