"Those who misquote George Santayana are condemned to paraphrase him."
Question: Who said, "Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it"? I've looked in all the library's quotation books, but still can't find the answer.
Answer: As a reference librarian, I have heard many variations on this theme by George Santayana.
This particular quotation has eluded more than one library customer, who recalled the keyword "history" instead of what American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) actually said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (from "Life of Reason I"). Searching for the wrong word in indexes can get you nowhere, fast. When using either book indexes or online search engines, it pays to think of synonyms and other other words of related meaning.
On August 26, syndicated columnist Trudy Rubin misquoted Santayana (""Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.") in her "Wordlview" column, "Bush's bid to tie Iraq to Vietnam doesn't work."
A deliberately incorrect Google search (with search terms "santayana," "remember history," and "doomed to repeat"), yielded 269 Web pages misquoting Santayana ("Those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it."). Those who cannot remember quotations are condemned to paraphrase them.
As for the quotation itself, Contemporary Hispanic Biography  said that "students of Santayana's work complain that the maxim has been taken out of context: Originally it formed part of a theory about how knowledge is acquired rather than being a moral exhortation to pay attention to history, and it has a didactic quality that is foreign to the subtle, paradoxical, and occasionally humorous quality of Santayana's thought."
This variation on the "remember the past" theme appeared in Santayana's "Reasons and Places I": A man's memory may almost become the art of continually varying and misrepresenting his past, according to his interests in the present."
Spanish poet Jorge Guillén (1893-1984) captured George Santayana (also known as Jorge Augustin Nicolas de Santayana y Borras) in an epigram:
"He looks to matter for his faith
And Spanish by birth,
English by language,
In the solitude of his eminence
Untrammeled, he is aware of the lay world
Without gods. Truth gives him serenity."
That George Santayana was more than a "one-quote thinker" is clear in these selections from the Beaufort County Library, South Carolina collection of "famous quotation" books:
• "Sanity is a madness put to good uses."
• "There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval;"
• "Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim;"
• "There are indeed specific human virtues, but they are necessary to experience, like patience and courage. Supported on these indispensable habits, mankind always carries an indefinite load of misery and vice."
• "Oaths are the fossils of piety."
• "People who feel themselves to be exiles in this world are mightily inclined to believe themselves citizens of another."
• "The world is perpetual caricature of itself; at every moment it is the mockery of what it is pretending to be."
• "The highest form of vanity is love of fame."
• "The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool."
• "My old age judges more charitably and thinks better of mankind than my youth ever did."
 Contemporary Hispanic Biography :Profiles from the International Hispanic Community. Ashyia N. Henderson, project editor. Detroit, Michigan: Gale/Thomson, 2003.
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