“Until one is committed…” quoting the correct author

Because of the work I do regarding the importance of making and keeping commitments, as well as the paths I have chosen to follow that express personal commitments I have made in my life,  I have often found inspiration in the following quote that is attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe from his work, Faust:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Thanks again to the wonders of the internet, which now contains nearly the entire knowledge of all mankind (our modern day equivalent to the Royal Library of Alexandria, the ancient world’s single largest collection of knowledge), I stumbled upon a question as to whether this quote is correctly attributed to Goethe.  Here is what I found.

The Goethe Society of North America investigated this very subject over a two-year period ending in March 1998. The Society got help from various sources and after extensive research they and others have discovered that the “Until one is committed…” quotation often attributed to Goethe is in fact by William Hutchinson Murray (1913-1996), from his 1951 book entitled The Scottish Himalayan Expedition.  Murray’s book (J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1951) details the first Scottish expedition in 1950 to the Kumaon range in the Himalayas, between Tibet and western Nepal. The expedition, led by Murray, attempted nine mountains and climbed five, in over 450 miles of mountainous travel. The book is out of print and can cost over $100 from used book sellers.

The attribution to Goethe no doubt added a bit more cache to the quote, but I am nevertheless still indebted to the correct author, and therefore felt compelled to set the record straight here.  Please pass it on.




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