I was given this bit of wisdom to include in a family newsletter. The attribution to Twain is disturbing since he seems the least likely person to have written such a thing. It shows up credited to Twain on thousands of sites, although Audrey Hepburn also gets her fair share.
"Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile."
Twenty minutes with Google turned up a handful of naysayers, but nothing authoritative. Is there any strong evidence as to the time of composition or to the actual “author”?
That’s unTwainian in both style and substance. Twain would also have punctuated it properly.
Stylistically I’d place it as late-20thC or later. It’s probably by Random Internet Person or indeed a conflation of quotes from Random Internet People. My own Googling found “Never regret anything that made you smile” attributed to someone named Amber Deckers, from her book “Ella Mental and the Good Sense Guide”.
More Googling: I’ve also found various versions attributed to Paulo Coelho (usually cited as from the book “Adultery”), including: “Life is short. Kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly.”
While it’s hard to prove a negative, the fact that it’s almost certainly not found in any of his known writings is a pretty good sign.
I mean, you could contact the Twain Library (I haven’t checked but I assume there’s one somewhere) who have probably been asked about this 50,000 times already, but otherwise the poor quality of writing ought to be enough.
You could check with the Mark Twain House ion Hartford, CT. (A great place to visit, btw), or with the editors responsible for the recently-released Autobiography (The Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley)
Mount Vernon has a page of Spurious Washington Quotations. Monticello’s website has many pages–TJ’s a favorite of the Spurious Quotation crowd. Bogus quotations from the Founders are often lies to support political causes–but there’s also a big market for glurge. There’s been fakery for years but the Internet has encouraged it. (Then there are the “All the Founding Father would agree that…” statements. Which only works on those who haven’t read about the mighty disagreements occurring at our nation’s birth. And later.)
The Mark Twain House site recommended another site for Twain Quotations–this page searches for “Life.” Here’s a sample (from The Mysterious Stranger):
When evaluating a quotation, first check if the source is given: which book, essay, letter or speech? Also, compare the style & content. Someone born in the 18th century would not have written in the style of a mid-20th century motivational speaker–or an early 21st century NRA member. And a cynic like Twain produced damn little glurge.
(Yes, this is a small hobby of mine;
(http://quoteinvestigator.com/) is diverting. And I remember a long-ago debate teacher who stressed that “quotation” is a noun & “quote” is a verb.)
My friends and I use Mark Twain as the source for anything fantastic, unverifiable or dubious. If you don’t know or recall where something comes from you just say, “Twain.” Occasionally someone will confirm by asking, “Clemens?”
Oddly enough Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz TX, childhood home of Steve Earle, is not really named after Samuel Clemens. The school had been Schertz Cibolo and in changing districts it was decided that it would be too expensive to replace the band uniforms adorned with their distinctive lettering SC. So a contest was held to name the school using the initials SC and Samuel Clemens was the winner.