A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from June 05, 2010
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme”

“History repeats itself” is an old proverb. “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme” is often credited to Mark Twain (1835-1910), but there is no evidence that he ever said it. The “rhyme” variant has been cited in print (and credited to Twain) since at least 1970.
“History doesn’t repeat (itself), but it does rhyme” (or, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes”) often refers to political history.
Wikiquote: History
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
. This is very often attributed to Mark Twain, but the earliest published source yet located is by Joseph Anthony Wittreich in Feminist Milton (1987) where he writes: “History may not repeat itself but it does rhyme, and every gloss by a deconstructionist need not be a loss, pushing us further into an abyss of skepticism and indeterminacy.”
Wikiquote: Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American humorist, novelist, writer, and lecturer.
Unsourced/ Possible Fakes
The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
. Also quoted as “History does not repeat itself, It rhymes” and “History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot.”
. According to this notes on sourcing, Twain scholars agree that it sounds like something he would say, but they have been unable to find the actual quote in his writing.
. Twain did write: “It is not worth while to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man’s character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible.” (Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (1940), ed. Bernard DeVoto.)
Google Books
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Pg. 614:
“History repeats itself.”
George Eliot, Scenes of Clerical Life (1858). The precise wording is “history, we know, is apt to repeat itself.”
25 January 1970, New York (NY) Times, “Q&A,” Book Review, pg. 264:
W. D. M. is seeking to locate the source of the following line, attributed to Mark Twain: “History never repeats itself, but it rhymes.”
Google Books
Diplomacy and its discontents
By James George Eayrs
Pg. 121:
(When Mark Twain declared ‘History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes,’ he went about as far as he could go.)
13 March 1972, Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), “TV Today” by Harold Schindler, pg. 23, col. 2:
(As Twain said, history may not repeat itself, but it rhymes.)
Google News Archive
10 March 1974, Montreal Gazette, “Gadfly with bite” by R. Johns, pg. 51, col. 5:
James Eayrs, GREENPEACE AND HER ENEMIES, Anansi, 349 pp. $11.50
Such all too human quotations by Eayrs stir pity and consicence. The believe-it-or-not aspect goads the reader’s jaded imagination into the shocking recognition that part of the future is already here along with grimmer aspects of our past. “History doesn’t repeat itself,” Eayrs cracks, “but it rhymes.”
Google Books
Citizens Commission for Commemoration of Federal Government Bicentenary Era : hearing before the Subcommittee on Census and Population of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, House of Representatives, Ninety-sixth Congress, second session, on H.R. 4981 ... September 4, 1980.
By United States. Congress. House. Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. Subcommittee on Census and Population.
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office
Pg. 73:
The first point is to remember a quotation from Mark Twain when he noted that history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme
Google Books
Teaching the Ancient World
By Douglas M. Astolfi
Chico, CA: Scholars Pr.
Pg. 88:
Or, as one of the participants was fond of observing: Mark Twain noted that although history doesn’t repeat itself, it does rhyme.
New York (NY) Times
History’s History
Published: June 26, 1988
To the Editor:
As Mark Twain said, ‘‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.’’
Associate Dean, Cornell University
Ithaca, N. Y., June 6

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Saturday, June 05, 2010 • Permalink

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