While some proverbs come into the collective consciousness via the work of an individual – John Donne’s No man is an island, for example, or Teddy Roosevelt’s Speak softly, and carry a big stick – the most common source of sayings is simply ‘tradition’, that is to say, a combination of anonymous and multiple authors. Reference to oral tradition is therefore akin to quoting a favourite poet or orator,except that it is not an individual whose wisdom is being cited, but an entire culture. ‘As my old Gaffer used to say…’ is not Sam Gamgee crediting his father as the inventor of an insight, but recognising the person from whom one aspect of Hobbit-sense was most often, or most memorably, received.
From the Foreword
To be published by Oloris Publishing on 18th November