May you live in interesting times

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May you live in interesting times : Phrases


May you experience much upheaval and trouble in your life. The clear implication being that 'uninteresting times', of peace and tranquility, are more life-enhancing.



While purporting to be a blessing, this is in fact a curse. It is widely reported as being of ancient Chinese origin, but is likely to be of recent and western origin, although it seems to be intended to sound Chinese, in the 'Confucious he say' mould.

The earliest citation that has yet come to light is U-Turn, a sci-fi short story by Duncan Munro (one of the pen names of Eric Frank Russell), 1950:

"For centuries the Chinese used an ancient curse: 'May you live in interesting times!' It isn't a curse any more. It's a blessing."

It may be that Russell coined the phrase himself or he may have heard it elsewhere.
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