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Perhaps the most widespread illusion is that if we were in power we would
behave very differently from those who now hold it -- when, in truth, in
order to get power we would have to become very much like them. (Lenin's
fatal mistake, both in theory and in practice.)
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Perhaps the world's second words crime is boredom. The first is
being a bore.
-- Cecil Beaton
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Perilous to all of us are the devices of
an art deeper than we ourselves possess.
-- Gandalf the Grey
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Periphrasis is the putting of things in a round-about way. "The cost may be
upwards of a figure rather below 10m#." is a periphrasis for The cost may be
nearly 10m#. "In Paris there reigns a complete absence of really reliable
news" is a periphrasis for There is no reliable news in Paris. "Rarely does
the 'Little Summer' linger until November, but at times its stay has been
prolonged until quite late in the year's penultimate month" contains a
periphrasis for November, and another for lingers. "The answer is in the
negative" is a periphrasis for No. "Was made the recipient of" is a
periphrasis for Was presented with. The periphrasis style is hardly possible
on any considerable scale without much use of abstract nouns such as "basis,
case, character, connexion, dearth, description, duration, framework, lack,
nature, reference, regard, respect". The existence of abstract nouns is a
proof that abstract thought has occurred; abstract thought is a mark of
civilized man; and so it has come about that periphrasis and civilization are
by many held to be inseparable. These good people feel that there is an almost
indecent nakedness, a reversion to barbarism, in saying No news is good news
instead of "The absence of intelligence is an indication of satisfactory
-- Fowler's English Usage
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Persistence in one opinion has never been considered
a merit in political leaders.
-- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares", 1st century BC
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Personifiers of the world, unite!
You have nothing to lose but Mr. Dignity!
-- Bernadette Bosky
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Personifiers Unite! You have nothing to lose but Mr. Dignity!
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Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted;
persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting
to find a plot in it will be shot. By Order of the Author
-- Mark Twain, "Tom Sawyer"
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A man who spends all his time worrying about how he can keep the
wolf from the door.
A man who refuses to see the wolf until he seizes the seat of
A man who invites the wolf in and appears the next day in a fur coat.
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Pete: Waiter, this meat is bad.
Waiter: Who told you?
Pete: A little swallow.