French essayist and philosopher Paul Valéry (1871-1945) gets the credit for this great quote. Although technically the English version should be credited to his translator! Here’s the original.
Il fallait un calculateur, ce fut un danseur qui l’obtint.
That line comes from a book published during World War II, some time between 1941 and 1943. The first translation to English in 1970 wasn’t quite so elegant:
“The businessman…a cross between a dancer and a ready-reckoner. ( ‘It was a dancer who got her.’)”
Thankfully the quote that is now widely shared appeared in another translation in a 1977 publication.
Sometimes things get better in the translation!