self-plagiarism or self-quotation: Wilde& Co.
- Dear all,
I thought I might get the discussion going by asking for your ideas
on Wilde's self-plagiarism. The topic features prominently in all
three volumes of The Complete Works that have been published so far
(Oxford UP, gen. ed. Ian Small) and is also discussed by Anya
Clayworth in her 2004 edition of the Selected Journalism.
Does self-plagiarism make sense in discussing Victorian works? The
earliest use of the term recorded in the MLA database is an article
from 1932 on Pope. The idea of self-plagiarism, but not the word, is
recorded in the OED: "Some, their own Plagiaries, will be read/ In
th' Elder Statue with a younger Head" (W. Cartwright, Poems 1651).
The notion does not seem to me to have gained critical support until
fairly recently. So--do you find it a useful term in relation to a)
literary works; b) scholarly writing?
On the other hand, if self-repetition, self-quotation, even
the "narcissism of self-quotation" (Michel Schneider, Voleurs des
mots:essai sur le plagiat, la psychanalyse et la pensée) seem more
appropriate for describing Wilde's technique, are his repetitions
that unusual and unprecedented? I would be grateful for any
suggestions of writers that might be deemed to surpass or match
Wilde in the art of self-plagiarism or self-quotation.
- I have been thinking about this for some time. As we know, Kristeva compartmentalised allusion and influence into the neat term: Intertextuality. Josephine Guy refers to "it/them" as creative self-appropriations. Revaluing Wilde in positivistic critical terms brings HIM and US back to the text and I like that. Self-plagiarism (whith its pejorative connotation) sounds oxymoronic anyway.
INTRATEXTUALITY, though it has come into vogue most recently as complimentary to Intertextuality, could be reclaimed, could it not? It all alludes to Narcissus somehow in the end. We reveal to conceal, vice versa ad nauseum... Enigma is good for universality's sake. Maybe we should all go lie in the grass and smoke cigarettes this afternoon instead.
- I find myself replying to myself, whether it be in thought or action (online action? YES).
Anyway, I think Intratextuality, as it applies to form, content, etcetera, is a necessary 1st concern, but--as it concerns Wilde's use of (self) repetition or refrain, we need a definitive term. Nothing, yet, comes close.
- I am not sure whether I should admit as much but I have not come across the term intratextuality as far as I can remember--when and by whom was it coined? If the point of it is to make all of one's texts into a single text, then it would seem to me to contradict rather than support intertextual theory as imagined by Kristeva, Barthes, Genette et. al.
As for self-plagiarism, I also find oxymoronic, but I have discovered that some academics regard it as a valid concept and are in some cases able to get as upset over it as over plagiarism. I suspect this increased sensitivity to self-repetition and self-plagiarism is closely linked to the diminished time for research (making us impatient of people who repeat, or seem to repeat themselves, artificially increasing our reading load) and with the devaluation of academic writing, which is extended to non-academic writing.
Perhaps useful terms in thinking about Wilde's self-repetition might come from other arts, such as music-I am thinking of variations, John Cage, Eric Satie, the Wagnerian leitmotifs but cannot get much further with this Or painting--where each sketch, preliminary draft or version is regarded as a unique and potentially valuable piece of art--I am thinking, for example, of the intriguing series of canvases that Picasso created in response to Velazquez's Las Meninas, all of which are displayed in the Prado museum.
But I think it should be possible to describe Wilde's techniques
with the ordinary terms of literary criticism as--in different
instances, self-parody, self-quotation, repetition. This brings me
to my second, so far unanswered question, i.e. on the originality or otherwise of Wilde's self-plagiarism. Pater was also rather fond of re-writing his own texts, as well as other people's texts-this is analysed by William Shuter in a very interesting study. But could these strategies limited to Pater and Wilde?
I was talking about this to a post-colonial scholar and he mentioned J.M Coetzee, Jeanette Winterson and Jamaica Kincaid in connection to re-writing one's own texts. Of course, I would be particularly interested in unearthing similar techniques in writers contemporary with Wilde and I suspect the evidence might be found especially in dramatic work. Perhaps Wilde's self-quotation technique could be primarily described as dramatic, indeed theatrical--what he recycles mostly, or most memorably, is after all dialogue, epigrammatic dialogue.