'May you live in interesting times' is supposed to be an ancient Chinese curse - but it seems that is not the case. Here is the Wikipedia wisdom on the matter which seems to me pretty convincing. It's a Chamberlain rather than a Chinese curse:
|May you live in interesting times|
"May you live in interesting times" is an English expression that is claimed to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. While seemingly a blessing, the expression is normally used ironically; life is better in "uninteresting times" of peace and tranquility than in "interesting" ones, which are usually times of trouble.
Despite being so common in English as to be known as the "Chinese curse", the saying is apocryphal, and no actual Chinese source has ever been produced. The most likely connection to Chinese culture may bededuced from analysis of the late-19th-century speeches of Joseph Chamberlain, probably erroneously transmitted and revised through his son Austen Chamberlain.
Despite being widely attributed as a Chinese curse, there is no known equivalent expression in Chinese.
Evidence that the phrase was in use as early as 1936 is provided in a memoir written by Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, the British Ambassador to China in 1936 and 1937, and published in 1949. He mentions that before he left England for China in 1936, a friend told him of a Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."
The phrase is again described as a "Chinese curse" in an article published in Child Study: A Journal of Parent Education in 1943.
Frederic René Coudert Jr. also recounts having heard the phrase at the time:
"Chamberlain curse" theory
Research by philologist Garson O'Toole shows a probable origin in the mind of Austen Chamberlain's father Joseph Chamberlain dating around the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Specifically, O'Toole cites the following statement Joseph made during a speech in 1898:
Over time, the Chamberlain family may have come to believe that the elder Chamberlain had not used his own phrase, but had repeated a phrase from Chinese.'
|We may know more now than Terry Pratchett did then|
Be that as it may, we are living in dangerous times. Henry Goodwin published an article in The London Economic website on Wednesday 7 July 2021 that seemed to me a very important digest of these dangers and I am sharing it here:
These are most definitely interesting times - and I can only wish that more people could smell the rot and sense the danger. These are three bills that will redefine the nature of our failing state when they become the law of the land