It’s Not Just A Good Idea, It’s the Law

If there’s anything folks love to do on the Internet, it’s talk and argue, argue and talk. Anyone who spends enough time online will, whether they know it or not, eventually run into Godwin’s Law:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

There are numerous variations and corollaries, and after eleven years of talking about books and with Book People, both in person and online (including an absolutely epic party last night, thrown by the one and only Julie Wilson), I’ve come up with a corollary of my own*. I hereby present you with August’s Corollary to Godwin’s Law:

As an English-language literary discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving William Shakespeare, James Joyce, or Ulysses approaches 1.

*What finally tipped the scales for formulating the Corollary was Perdita Felicien’s appearance on Canada Reads.


Writer. Editor. Critic.


  1. I have just been discovering your blog – and just wanted to say that this post is hilarious – both Hitler and Shakespeare seem to come up in discussions all the time – whatever they are about. Great post – thanks for sharing

  2. Are you implying that we all, in the end, come down to the same rationales and reasonings? That we are all equal? That sounds suspiciously like socialism! Nazi!
    Ohhhhh……I get it now. But I see a flaw in your reasoning. As Shakespeare would say…aw, dammit!

  3. Too funny. I didn’t follow Canada Reads this year (for no other reason than I just didn’t have time). Now I’m curious though, what was the Shakespeare reference made?

  4. Hannah: welcome! Glad you’re enjoying things.
    Corey: shelf monkey, or cheeky monkey?
    John: I don’t remember the exact wording or circumstance (I’ve got the memory of a goldfish, I swear), but I think she was defending “books that had already had their day” with the classic “we still read Shakespeare” argument. I may be misremembering, though. Been known to happen.

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