Haefeli on NomConjObjs

I have it on display in my living room, but apparently I didn’t post it: William Haefeli’s New Yorker cartoon of 8/30/10 on between you and I:

(Most recent NomConjObj posting here; most informative one here.) As I’ve noted before, (just) between you and I has become a fixed expression for many people, including some who otherwise use NomConjObjs very sparingly.

In checking the information on the Haefeli cartoon, I came across a site with an attempt at quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald:

Wow, the rich are different than you and I (link)

This was as originally written. But a reader complained about different than, so the line got changed to

Wow, the rich are different from you and I

(preserving the NomConjObj, but altering the preposition with different; different to/from/than is a topic for another occasion.) In fact, several versions have been quoted, presumably by people for whom the usage features at issue are entirely natural. Here are four with both features:

“The rich are different than you and I,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald during the Golden Age of the 1920s. Nowadays, there is a second Golden Age, an age in which 1 percent of Americans hold one-third of the nation’s wealth, and inhale over one-quarter of the income – and these rich are not only different, they also are becoming more different every day (link)

The Rich Are Just Like You And Me… They Just Earn More Money: Hemingway is famously (and apocryphally) supposed to have told Scott Fitzgerald that “the rich are different than you and I.” “Yes, Hem,” Fitzgerald is supposed to have said. “They have more money.” (link)

I assumed the first line of The Great Gatsby was, “The rich are different than you and I,” because I had read that quotation of Fitzgerald so often. But it isn’t there. All I saw was some really terrific prose. (link)

[from an eNotes (“Study smarter”) page with “Essential Facts” about Fitzgerald] 2. Hemingway once ridiculed Fitzgerald’s famous line, “The rich are different than you and I,” by quipping, “Yes, they have more money.” (link)

There are more, but you get the idea. People remember the quotation the way they would have said it.

Now there is a Fitzgerald quotation here, but it’s not from conversation between him and Hemingway, it’s about the “very rich”, and it has both from and me in it. William Safire nailed this twenty years ago, in an “On Language” column (10/13/91) that begins:

In an article about personal bankruptcy, a New York Times business writer quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald as having remarked to Ernest Hemingway, “the rich are different than you and I.”

“You have people to look this up,” writes Miriam Hurewitz of Westport, Conn. “Did Fitzgerald really say it that way? Different than you and I ? My students of copy editing at N.Y.U. would be interested in your reply.”

Here’s a full treatment from the Wikiquote site:

Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald’s. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:

Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me. [note: than but me]

Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.

This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.

Colum: I think you’ll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.

The full quotation is found in Fitzgerald’s words in his short story “The Rich Boy” (1926), paragraph 3: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.”

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