Why do we say "You can't go home again"?

Well-Known Expressions

You can't go home again

Meaning:

If you try to return to a place you remember from the past it won't be the same as you remember it.

Background:

This expression gained popularity as the title of Thomas Wolfe's novel You Can't Go Home Again. Wolfe was born in North Carolina in 1900 and during his relatively short life wrote four novels, and many short stories and plays. He died in 1938 of tuberculosis. You Can't Go Home Again was published posthumously in 1940, the text having been extracted by Wolfe's editor, Edward Aswell, from a much longer unpublished manuscript titled, "The October Fair."

On the face of it, the fact that the novel ended up with a different name to the manuscript would imply that we have Wolfe's editor to thank for the title, but actually it seems that the title was Wolfe's as, according to Gail Godwin's introduction to a 2011 reprint of You Can't Go Home Again, Wolfe took the title from a conversation with Australian-British journalist Ella Winter who remarked to Wolfe, "don't you know you can't go home again?" Wolfe was so taken with the expression that he asked Winter for permission to use the phrase as the title of his book.

Alphabetical list of expressions

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