In Borje's fictional review, "Pierre Menard, Author of Quixote", the crazy Argentinian hints at the idea that a work written word for word by two different authors can actually be called two different works. He quotes the same passage of Don Quixote twice, pointing out how different it could be interpreted if the writer was a 20th Century Frenchman instead of a 17th Century Spaniard. It's an interesting thought-experiment in how author-context informs writing.

But in a similar way, Borje says in another short story, that "All men who repeat a line from Shakespeare are William Shakespeare" (emphasis his). We can consider this a way of suggesting that the work of Shakespeare stopped being his own once others started reading it (or, possibly more importantly, using it).

It's something I've been thinking about lately. Thinking about it while I think of how history has worked, and the concept of Multiple Discovery. Is it so unusual that many authors would decide to write about boy wizards engaged in violent battles at a time where children's playgrounds were being compared to warzones and when magic appears to be less complicated than science?

Thinking about these things makes me realise that originality is over-rated, that the stories we tell are in some ways the stories of the world around us. By writing a story, that story is intrinsically mine, but when read by you is now yours. It doesn't matter if my plot is similar to X's. It's a different story simply because I wrote it. It's a different story simply because you read it.

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What do people think? In today's fear of plagiarism, where we worry about unoriginality in a saturated world of culture, would it not be better to just say that we are all William Shakespeare and that none of us are? It's a paradox that I personally think works.

Source: reddit post


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