Allusions to titles past

The Economist, wildly given to jokey headlines for its stories (and sometimes also their lead paragraphs or final paragraphs), performed a Proustian double play in its 2/2/19 issue: in two successive stories, headlines that are both plays on Proust’s title À la recherche du temps perdu, in two different English translations (both of them widely quoted in English).

on p. 21, about Facebook turning 15: “Remembrance of posts past” (Remembrance of Things Past)

on p. 22, about the consequences of the US government shutdown: “In search of lost time (and money)” (In Search of Lost Time)

The on-line versions of the heads (formatted differently in the print edition):



On the practice seen here, from my 2/1/19 posting “The natural history of snowclones”: playful variation on, allusion to, a formulaic expression: an idiom or

a cliché, striking quotation, proverb, saying, catchphrase, slogan, or memorable name or title

Two postings on the practice, from many on this blog:

on 8/26/12 in “Playful variations”: Far Side cartoons with playful variations on formulaic expressions (wharf rat; You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow; People who live glass houses shouldn’t throw stones)

on 5/8/14 in “Allusions, playful variations, snowclones, themes, subjects, memes, tropes, genres”: from a Doonesbury cartoon, the quotation A verb, Senator, we need a verb! played on in a letter to the NYT

Bonus from the same issue. I was already considering posting on a headline from p. 11, about the Brexit negotiations:

Over to EU

Oh, groan! A play on the idiom:

phrase over to youinformal used to say that it is now your turn or responsibility: it’s over to you, the people of Scotland, to decide who should win. (NOAD)

And now I’m only up to p. 22. Who knows what lies in store for me?

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