“Turning in his grave”

For years…probably since I read my first Pogo book at about age 8…I have understood this expression as Walt Kelly did.  Let’s have an example.

“This concert is so bad that Beethoven must be turning in his grave!”

Kelly explained (through his characters) that this meant “things are so bad that Beethoven is turning his grave in.”  Returning it, so that he could come back to life and either punish the person playing the music, or play it himself correctly.  He is “turning it in” or exchanging it for a different situation.

Recently I reread this phrase in Pogo so I went online to look it up.  I can’t find a single thing to corroborate this!  Everything on the internet talks about “spinning” in his grave, or “rotating,” never mind that those don’t even make any sense.  I hesitate to put Kelly’s version on Wikipedia (even as an alternate interpretation), mostly because I feel unqualified to tinker with Wikipedia.  I’m not enough of an expert to claim the precise knowledge.  (Not to mention I can’t quite concisely phrase it.  You see how rambling it came out in this blog post.)

So I was wondering…for those of you who do not know Kelly’s work – have you ever heard of his version?  Has anyone else ever heard of this, besides Pogo fans?

One thought on ““Turning in his grave”

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