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That "A reader lives a thousand lives" quote....

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I've just read this line that Jojen says to Bran in Chapter 34,



A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.




Initially I laughed, I'd heard this quote many times before and couldn't believe Martin had included a modern quote in a book set in a time before it was first coined - but upon researching the quote online I quickly realised all the search results pointed to Martin and A Dance with Dragons.



So now I'm somewhat bewildered - this is my first reading of A Dance with Dragons - how can I already be familiar with the quote if I've only read it for the first time here? Does it appear earlier on in the series? Has someone else (I'm thinking Tyrion) said it in the HBO series somewhere? Or has the quote slipped into common parlance so quickly and spread so widely that I've already heard it from the lips of others before reading it here?



Or to put it another way - were you familiar with the saying before you read it in A Dance With Dragons?


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It is a quote from Shakespeare's tragedy Julius Caesar but Martinized. Caesar tells his wife - who begs him not to go forth to the Capitol for she dreamt of his statue spouting blood from many holes. Caesar arrogantly dismisses Calpurnia: " A coward dies a thousand deaths, but a hero only one. I paraphrase. Caesar IS NO coward! [He's a fool to ignore his wife, his priest, the soothsayer, etc.]



The Titan of Braavos is likely inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes, - who is referenced in Shakespeare's JC as well.

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It is a quote from Shakespeare's tragedy Julius Caesar but Martinized. Caesar tells his wife - who begs him not to go forth to the Capitol for she dreamt of his statue spouting blood from many holes. Caesar arrogantly dismisses Calpurnia: " A coward dies a thousand deaths, but a hero only one. I paraphrase. Caesar IS NO coward! [He's a fool to ignore his wife, his priest, the soothsayer, etc.]

The Titan of Braavos is likely inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes, - who is referenced in Shakespeare's JC as well.

Thanks for the explanation. Yeah I think I read something like this before, although it was much less detailed. You sound like you know your Shakespeare! :)

It's a great line and I'd felt like I'd heard some iteration of it before as well, but beyond that I currently attribute it to GRRM.

Yeah, where did we hear it before??? Hmmmm.... I was trying to think where the writers for the HBO series may have fitted it in the show, I wonder if they have Tyrion say it to Jon Snow when he's visiting the Wall or something. I will have to keep my eyes open for it when I get round to re-watching series one. :idea:

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I just saw it on one of those garishly edited tumblr quote pictures....


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just a random thought.... if a reader lives a thousand lives, and the man that never reads lives only one...


the writer never dies.....


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It is a quote from Shakespeare's tragedy Julius Caesar but Martinized. Caesar tells his wife - who begs him not to go forth to the Capitol for she dreamt of his statue spouting blood from many holes. Caesar arrogantly dismisses Calpurnia: " A coward dies a thousand deaths, but a hero only one. I paraphrase. Caesar IS NO coward! [He's a fool to ignore his wife, his priest, the soothsayer, etc.]

The Titan of Braavos is likely inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes, - who is referenced in Shakespeare's JC as well.

i like this.

i've heard this quote many times before. didn't know it was a GRRM original (if it even is???) but either way, it's a great line.

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i like this.

i've heard this quote many times before. didn't know it was a GRRM original (if it even is???) but either way, it's a great line.

I'm still not totally convinced the quote in question's a GRRM original.

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It's a recurring theme in Tyrion's viewpoints. He goes somewhere, he ends up in a library. And wherever he goes, he always talks about the books he's reading.
I believe it's the same here, Bran is not a martial hero and never will be. But in wisdom and knowledge you can also find great strength

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I've seen pretty much every interview with George RR Martin that's available on YouTube and I am pretty sure he mentioned that saying at some point talking about how he grew up in a very small and boring town and how he always read a lot and made up stories cause it was so boring there. He said something like "You know its just like that saying 'A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.' It's true!"



I also stumbled upon that passage in the book a few days ago and was surprised he used it


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That Shakespeare quote is an interesting little nugget, but it has a vastly different meaning; the thousand deaths a coward must face every time he looks back on his decision to run, the death of his integrity, of him as a person. Martin is talking about all of the experiences a non reader misses out on. I just don't see the connection.

As The Breaker of Chains has said, I think it's just one of those lines that are so well written and strike such a chord, it feels like you've heard it before you've even read it. I wouldn't be surprised if it is a Martinized version of a common idiom, though... seems to be up Martin's alley.

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