Journalists at Charlie Hebdo compare pencils with guns, writers with fighters, refurbishing this aphorism “the pen is mightier than the sword.”

 Why are some demonstrators are holding pens and pencils in the air. Many of the cartoons assert that “the pen is mightier than the sword”. But where does this idea originate?

The English words “The pen is mightier than the sword” were first written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu.

Richelieu, chief minister to King Louis XIII, discovers a plot to kill him, but as a priest he is unable to take up arms against his enemies.

His page, Francois, points out: But now, at your command are other weapons, my good Lord.

Richelieu agrees: The pen is mightier than the sword… Take away the sword; States can be saved without it!

The saying quickly gained currency, says Susan Ratcliffe, associate editor of the Oxford Quotations Dictionaries. “By the 1840s it was a commonplace.”

Today it is used in many languages, mostly translated from the English. The French version is: “La plume est plus forte que l’epee.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.