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A quote from William James that could’ve come from Robert Benchley or S. J. Perelman or Dorothy Parker

Following up on yesterday’s post, here’s a William James quote that could’ve been plucked right off the Algonquin Round Table:

Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver.


  1. beamish says:

    James doesn’t claim credit for the joke (or defend its truth). At the beginning of ‘Is Life Worth Living?’, he writes

    “When Mr. Mallock’s book with this title appeared some fifteen years ago, the jocose answer that ‘it depends on the _liver_’ had great currency in the newspapers. The answer which I propose to give to-night cannot be jocose.”

  2. Steve Sailer says:

    Robert Benchley’s liver took quite a beating.

    As an actor, one of Benchley’s shticks was as the hapless presenter of statistical graphics:

  3. Steve Sailer says:

    Here’s Benchley showing in “The Causes of the Depression” that you shouldn’t mount your graph directly behind the chair you are sitting in:

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