[ilds] The Lost Art of Lying

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 7 10:58:21 PST 2008

I will not let Durrell off the hook by an appeal to an "aesthetic tradition."  Nor do I think he was not responsible at the end of his life for his MS of Caesar's Vast Ghost.  The examples I have in mind are not playful "borrowings," they are not allusions, but they are quite clearly gross examples of plagiarism.  This has been discussed before and need not be rehashed.  Compare those known passages in Prospero's Cell, the Quartet, and Caesar's Vast Ghost with their sources in Durrell's contemporaries.  He could have been sued and would have probably lost.  Given the extent of Durrell's "borrowings," I don't think any court would accept a defense based on the free circulation of other writers' prose and ideas.  Deception is relevant when a writer passes off other people's words as his own, without any accreditation or even remotely suggested accreditation, and that was what Durrell was doing on numerous occasions.


-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>Sent: Mar 7, 2008 10:01 AM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] The Lost Art of Lying
>Hey Bruce,
>I'd say Durrell and Wilde are actually remarkably akin here -- Wilde's 
>use of pastiche and reworking of other texts is on display /in spades/ 
>in his "The Decay of Lying."  It's nearly impossible to miss it.  The 
>point, in part, for Wilde is that his "misrepresented" stolen bits taken 
>on a new shape when they are recreated in his work.  And Wilde certainly 
>did much more of this "misrepresentation" than Durrell ever did (any 
>good critical edition will identify these extensive borrowings and 
>You might disagree with Durrell using the second sense of lying, which 
>you tie to copyright laws, and I can appreciate why you'd dislike it or 
>not value it as a reader, but he came to it through a very clear 
>aesthetic tradition to which he constantly alludes, and in which it has 
>a specific function.
>I see very little difference between Durrell and Wilde in either of the 
>two senses of lying here, but I doubt either was limited to just two 
>   "Appropriate what is yours, for to publish
>    anything is to make it public property"
>         -- Wilde
>Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> Wilde is playing off the first sense of lying, namely,
> > misrepresentation of fact and applying that to fiction.
> > But there is another sense, known to all, of deliberate
> > deception, for which we have such things as copyright
> > laws.  Durrell uses the first sense admirably but
> > misuses the second.
>> Bruce
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>ILDS at lists.uvic.ca

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