NEW YORK (AP) — Books and speeches, lyrics and interviews, impulsive tweets and sworn testimonials: Tracking every word spoken over the past decade can overwhelm anyone, but even more so if it’s your job to follow.

“Obviously the speed of events meant that no matter when we went to press, we would be cut in the middle of the story,” says Geoffrey O’Brien, editor of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.

The 19th edition of the 170-year-old reference work has just been published. It is the first volume since 2012 and the second edited by O’Brien, author, poet and cultural historian and former editor of the Library of America. The new book welcomes thousands of people into the unofficial citation canon, including author Ta-Nehisi Coates, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elon Musk and President Joe Biden.

“With the internet and cable news, you have the constant fabrication of statements of one kind or another,” O’Brien says, identifying his challenge as choosing quotes that last beyond news cycles. fleeting.

Of the current class, none was more obvious, more problematic, and more representative than former President Donald Trump, listed directly in the index as “Trump, Donald J(ohn), 1946-“.

Trump has become something of a test case for the proliferation of quotes in the 24/7 era and the difficulty of sorting through them. From the launch of his presidential campaign in 2015 through the end of his presidency and beyond, Trump has been an endless source of topical words, spoken or tweeted at all hours.

“It became clear that a number of showdowns would be needed to select things that felt crucial or memorable enough,” O’Brien said. “It’s guesswork at best since no one knows how anything will turn out. That’s why Bartlett has evolved over time.”

Trump’s quotes come all over the place from a speech in Nevada (“I like the ill-educated!”) to one of his debates with Hillary Clinton (“Such a mean woman”). A selection is not directly from him, but from a conversation with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as documented in the Mueller report: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m screwed.”

Bartlett’s was founded in the 1850s by Cambridge, Massachusetts bookstore owner John Bartlett. It has always been a subjective, even eccentric project. Early editions were devoted almost entirely to white English-speaking male poets, statesmen, and prose writers. The choices were unpredictable even within these limited limits: Bartlett included Benjamin Franklin, but not Thomas Jefferson; Thomas Paine, but not John Adams; John Keats, but not Percy Bysshe Shelley; the editor and translator “Mrs. Sarah Austin”, but not Jane Austen.

Over the past few decades, O’Brien and his immediate predecessor, Justin Kaplan, have opened Bartlett’s to voices from around the world and from a wide variety of backgrounds. Bartlett now includes words from Beyoncé, Usain Bolt, climate activist Greta Thunberg and writer Azar Nafisi. Bartlett’s also features Russian proverbs (“Live with wolves, howl like a wolf”), sea shanties and a Navajo hunting song (“Blessed am I/In the luck of the chase”).

O’Brien and his editorial team took on the challenge of expanding Bartlett while keeping its length of around 1,400 pages. Some older entries – from Alfonso the Wise to Anthony Burgess – had to go and O’Brien said he was personally sorry to cut space for a favorite writer, English poet John Dryden.

Former Vice President Dan Quayle’s manipulation of a United Negro College Fund advertising slogan, “What a waste it is to lose your mind,” has, perhaps thankfully, been dropped. So does Best Actress winner Sally Field’s seemingly immortal line at the 1985 Oscars: “You like me!”

Fame does not guarantee citation, and infamy does not lead to disqualification.

Bob Hope, a seemingly universally known name, is not included. Neither did Johnny Carson, a cornerstone of American culture for decades. Contemporary celebrities excluded include Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah, Howard Stern and the late Rush Limbaugh. Meanwhile, Woody Allen, Garrison Keillor and others whose reputations plummeted during the #MeToo era remain. Kanye West and his unusual praise for Trump (“We’re both dragon energy,” he told Time magazine in 2018) make the new edition.

O’Brien expressed regret for some of those left behind, including the late Rep. John Lewis. He explained that the aim was to be representative, but not encyclopedic. Among contemporary songwriters, for example, Merle Haggard is on board, but not Willie Nelson; Leonard Cohen, but not Randy Newman or John Prine. Dolly Parton is cited for the first time, but not for “Jolene” or any other song, but for her catchphrase, “It takes a lot of money to sound that cheap”.

Not all newcomers were happy with how publishers represented them. Longtime music critic Robert Christgau now joins peers such as Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs in Bartlett, but personally he wouldn’t have chosen a passage that begins “Punk nostalgia…is a preposterous oxymoron.”

“I’m not crazy about that line, there are hundreds if not thousands of better ones,” he told The Associated Press, preferring a line he wrote for the Village Voice in 1969: “In the worst times, music is a promise that times were meant to be better.”

Author and essayist Leslie Jamison was pleasantly surprised by the two excerpts selected by Bartlett, calling them “central concepts” to her: one in which she refers to empathy not as “just something that happens” but as a “choice we make: to pay attention, to expand”, and another in which she writes “Unconditional love was insulting, but conditional love was terrifying”.

Author Rachel Kushner likes the idea of ​​Bartlett’s continued evolution, telling the AP it’s a way to convert “writing into both a conversation and people talking to each other, which is true to what people do”. Her 2013 novel, “The Flamethrowers,” is listed for a passage about love and how “people who want their love easy don’t really want love.”

For future editions, if it were to be included, Kushner suggested a quote from a 2021 essay: “To become a writer is to leave early, no matter what time you got home.”

She also mentioned a more pressing priority, that her “date of birth be followed in the biographical index by an em dash, then a blank space.”