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23935Re: [mythsoc] Re: RPG fiction

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  • John Rateliff
    Dec 20, 2012
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      On Dec 19, 2012, at 1:19 PM, davise@... wrote:
      >>> But a lot of great art is much more nearly a copy of a previous original
      >>> than that e.g. much of Chaucer, almost all of Shakespeare.

      Hm. I'd say Shakespeare typically changes his sources quite a lot. A few of his plays are re-tellings; many are dramatically different from their direct source, having been transformed by the dramatist. And I'd suggest Chaucer is less a copyist than a storyteller of genius, who can improve anything he retells.

      > I admit I cannot think of a case where a literary significant modern novel or poem closely follows source material by a different author more recent than Mallory.

      Joyce's ULYSSES (traditionally ranked as the greatest novel of the twentieth century, though that's now being challenged by Tolkien and Orwell) springs to mind; his modern-day story is meant to echo Homer's at specific points throughout, and the reader who doesn't have that key misses much of what Joyce was trying to do in the book.*

      More direct examples can be found in Ezra Pound's THE CANTOS (the most splendid and moving of all Modernism's failures), which quotes directly at length from earlier literature, as well as translating and paraphrasing and excerpting same. Eliot's THE WASTELAND (again, generally considered the single greatest poem of the century) does the same on a smaller, tighter scale.

      --John R.

      *CSL did much the same with PERELANDRA, his take on PARADISE LOST, though don't know if that'd meet yr bar for "literar[ily] significant"
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