NABOKV-L post 0018430, Fri, 3 Jul 2009 20:47:13 -0300

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Re: [nabokov-l] Google Alert - James Joyce
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R. Boyle: Re Nabokov and Eliot, let us now add Joyce. To quote from page 251 of Richard Ellmann's James Joyce (Oxford University Press, New and Revised Edition, 1982) on the ending of "The Dead": The fine description: `It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves,' is probably borrowed by Joyce from a famous simile in the twelfth book of the Illiad, which Thoreau translates: `The snowflakes fell thick and fast on a winter's day. The winds are lulled, and the snow falls incessant, covering the tops of the mountains, and the hills, and the plains where the lotus-tree grows, and the cultivated fields, and they are falling by the inlets and shores of the foaming sea, but are silently dissolved by the waves'

JM: Starting from the Eliot/Trilling theory ("Imature artists copy; mature artists steal,") and following Boyle's example about a "borrowed simile" in Joyce/Homer, gaining momentum in his work, or the "echoes of another poet's verses" in Poe/Byron*, I must admit that the word "plagiarism" would not be the first to come to my mind, not theft, not even "borrowing". "Translation", perhaps, or "re-interpretation" or, at most, indulging in a donjuanesque courting of felicitous word-views - with the credit of passing-on a vision.

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* - Poe/Byron (thru Google sources):
"Tamerlane ignores the young love he has for a peasant in order to achieve power. On his deathbed, he regrets this decision to create "a kingdom [in exchange] for a broken-heart." The peasant is named Ada in most of Poe's original version of the poem, though it is removed and re-added throughout its many revised versions. The name "Ada" is likely a reference to the daughter of Lord Byron. In fact, the line "I reach'd my home -- my home no more" echoes a line in Byron's work 'Don Juan'."


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