Blog Archives

Image

Allusion/Echo and Plagiarism: Walking the Fine Line

by R. H. Winnick, author of Tennyson’s Poems: New Textual Parallels (OBP, 2019)


https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0161

In the three-volume second edition (1987) of Tennyson’s complete poems, editor Christopher Ricks cites more than twelve hundred instances where phrases and short passages are similar or identical to those occurring in prior works by other hands. These similarities are sometimes as minimal as two or three words, but in some cases extend to several words in the poems.  My own work on Tennyson’s textual parallels, benefiting from the proliferation of digitized texts and the related development of powerful search tools over the three decades since that edition was produced, has identified hundreds more.  Like those previously identified, each of these new instances may be deemed an allusion (meant to be recognized as such and pointing, for definable purposes, to a particular antecedent text), an echo (conscious or not, deliberate or not, meant to be noticed or not, meaningful or not), or merely accidental.  Unless accidental, these new textual parallels tell us more about Tennyson’s reading and shed further light on his thematic intentions and artistic technique.  But do they also tell us that Tennyson, for all his talent as a poet, was also a plagiarist on a grand scale?

Questions about Tennyson’s originality were first raised early in his career, with an unsigned review of his Poems (1833) in the New Monthly Magazine accusing him of having ‘filled half his pages with the most glaring imitations’.  Thirteen years later, in The New Timon, Edward Bulwer‑Lytton referred scornfully to the ‘borrowed notes’ and ‘purloin’d conceits’ of ‘School‑Miss Alfred’.  The most galling attack, however, and the one that prompted Tennyson’s most intense and sustained response, came late in his life. It was long after he was named Poet Laureate, long after his verse had won him fame, fortune and all but universal admiration, and came, ironically, from a scholar‑critic who claimed to hold him and his poetry in high regard.

When John Churton Collins published the first of three installments of ‘A New Study of Tennyson’in the January 1880 issue of The Cornhill Magazine—including in it, based on his wide reading and prodigious if imperfect memory, nearly a hundred instances in which Tennyson seemed to him to have derived phrases, lines, passages, even whole poems from an assortment of earlier, mostly classical authors—Tennyson filled the margins of his copy with comments generally ranging from denial to outrage.  Alongside two lines from his Mariana, said by Collins to have been adapted from two lines ‘scarcely less beautiful’ of the Latin poet Cinna, Tennyson wrote: ‘I read this for the first time’. Alongside five others, ‘not known to me’. Alongside six, ‘nonsense’. Alongside three, ‘no’, or ‘no, close as it seems’. Alongside five, ‘!!’ or ‘!!!’ and so on.  In three instances, it should be noted, Tennyson’s marginal comment was ‘possibly’.  If, as seems unlikely, he took the trouble to both read and mark up parts two and three of Collins’s Cornhill pieces—later collected with other purported instances of the poet’s borrowings in Collins’s Illustrations of Tennyson (1891)—his copies and any marginal comments they contained seem not to have survived.  Tennyson’s annoyance with Collins and insistence on the originality of his poems found further expression in his subsequent correspondence and conversation, with one scholar, Edmund Gosse, whose latest critical study Collins had panned in print, reporting—or claiming—that Tennyson had consoled him by calling Collins ‘a louse on the locks of literature’.

            Was Tennyson, then, despite his denials, a serial plagiarist?  What can, I think, be said is that Tennyson’s repeated insistence that he only rarely consciously and deliberately borrowed anything from anyone is as questionable as Collins’s repeated insistence that he believed the same thing.  Based on the enormous number of textual parallels to prior works to be found in Tennyson’s poems—those previously (and credibly) identified, plus those first reported in my study—a fundamental and lifelong aspect of Tennyson’s art would seem to have been his habit of echoing any work ancient or modern he had read and at least half-consciously recalled, that his creative intelligence told him would enhance the resonance or deepen the meaning of his poems. 

            These textual parallels do not, in my view, reflect a lack of imagination or a want of originality, but an imagination of enormous range and power that regarded everything he had ever read, as well as the world around him, the people he knew, the people he loved (or didn’t), and his own personal and emotional experience, as the raw material of his art.  If Tennyson’s lifelong practice of crafting poems in this manner—a practice adopted, to varying degrees, by countless other poets both ancient and modern—left and leaves him susceptible, however unjustly, to the charge of plagiarism, then so be it.  The fact remains that in doing so, Tennyson masterfully created some of the most memorable and original poems ever written in the English language.  

Image

Women and Migration; a vital contribution to the narrative of migration

Zsofia Hesket https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0096

Migration has been intertwined with human life from its very beginnings. The nomadic spirit of our ancestors led them from Africa to Asia between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago, and today, human beings populate all corners of the globe. Yet the impulse to leave behind one’s homeland can also be triggered by devastation, a familiar picture in recent decades. In June 2018, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that a shocking 68.5 million had been ‘forcibly displaced’ from their homes since the Second World War. Global refugee numbers have reached nearly 25.4 million as a result of conflict in Rwanda, Kosovo, Somalia and Iraq, to name but a few. But while women make up almost half of these refugee numbers, only 4% of the UN’s inter-agency appeals have been targeted at women and girls. Their perspectives have remained notoriously neglected. OBP’s forthcoming Open Access title, Women and Migration: Responses in Art and History, tries to rectify just that.

Continue reading
Image

Hölderlin, Gaskill, and the art of translation

OBP: Zsofia Hesket https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0095

Among scholars and enthusiasts of romantic literature, Hölderlin is certainly best known for his beautiful lyric poetry. Engaging themes of exile, divinity and the natural world, his poems ingeniously incorporated classical Greek syntax and mythology. He married both Greek and German linguistic traditions to create a language “foreign to, yet complicit in both”.[1] Clearly, this idiosyncrasy makes Hölderlin notoriously difficult to translate into English, and likely contributed to his other writings remaining quite unknown. With his new translation of Hyperion or The Hermit in Greece, available in Open Access, Howard Gaskill hopes to bolster interest in Hölderlin’s prose. A masterpiece of the romantic era, the novel deserves far greater recognition in the Anglophone world.  

Hyperion consists of a one-way correspondence addressed to a friend of whom we know virtually nothing. In this sense it is similar to Goethe’s Werther, another romantic classic. Yet, Hölderlin’s novel is a personal narration of events deep in the protagonist’s past, rather than a telling of present happenings. It is also set apart by its use of critical reflection, in which the character of Hyperion evaluates the experiences that have shaped his life. Returning to Greece after German exile, he takes up a hermitic existence that is peppered with remarkable relationships and encounters. Confronting and commenting on his past, Hyperion undergoes an evolution in consciousness that culminates in the realisation of his poetic vocation. Notice the characteristic theme running through Hölderlin works – in some way or other, linguistically or in the plot, he links the two countries of Greece and Germany. This ‘trademark’ unites the author’s poetry and prose, and fully appreciating his writing requires attention to the latter, too. Gaskill’s elegant translation is bound to encourage this, as it transports English-speaking readers directly into Hyperion’s mind.

With these many aspects to bear in mind, the translator is much like a juggler, performing a complex routine of mental gymnastics with each successive sentence. Gaskill does not shy away from this task. His meticulous rendition of Hyperion dares to replicate the contractions, colloquialisms and Swabianisms of Hölderlin, staying true to the rhythm of the original German. A concession to the modern reader, Gaskill introduces inverted commas to clarify which character is speaking. Hölderlin’s punctuation style is otherwise retained, leaving intact a unique characteristic of his writing. An accessible text with the charm of its native German, this translation is bound to appeal to those unfamiliar with Hyperion’s story.

Gaskill’s efforts to popularise Hyperion deeply resonate with me. Reading more foreign literature, I believe, is valuable to everyone. Not only does it expose us to a wealth of exciting stories, but it sheds light on the circumstances and perspectives of people in other countries. I have myself considered translating – and converting into plays – the works of renowned yet globally-overlooked Hungarian authors and poets, like Petőfi Sándor, József Attila, or Karinthy Frigyes. Addressing topics as universal as family, these writers also illuminate specific historical incidents, like Hungary’s revolt against the Habsburgs and its condition after the World Wars. Much like Hölderlin’s German, however, the complexities and intricacies of Hungarian are a great barrier to effective translation. This is the eternal vice of translation, and it can never be fully solved. Ultimately, it appears that all texts are destined to retain some degree of mystery for all but their native speakers.


[1] Guevara, F., Words Without Borders, August 2009, https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/book-review/friedrich-holderlins-selected-poems-and-odes-and-elegies

Image

OBP’s responses to the UUK Open Access Monographs project questionnaire


https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0094

OBP has participated in the data-gathering exercise that is currently being carried out by Fullstopp Gmbh on behalf of the Universities UK Open Access Monographs working group. The questionnaire, which is available online, has been designed to collect information that will inform future OA policy decisions, and in the spirit of openness we share our responses in full below. We also share the data we provided to Fullstopp, which comprises sales data for all the print editions of our books published before the end of 2017. We also have sales information for our digital editions and readership statistics for all our titles that we are happy to make available if requested.

We are always happy to share information and data about our work – we put as much of it as we can on our website, but if you’d like to know more, please get in touch! Continue reading

Image

OBP blogs on tour


https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0093

We have recently contributed to two other blogs to talk about ScholarLed, the new OA consortium we have joined; and about the importance of Open Access publishing and what it can offer to authors. Catch up with those posts here!

Image

Further Reading


https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0092

Photo by William on Unsplash

This blog post is part of a series for academics who want to find out more about Open Access. Click here for the other posts.

Image

Reputation, reputation, reputation – quality control and reward systems


https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0091

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

In the past, Open Access publishing has been accused of being akin to vanity publishing or self-publishing, while the term ‘predatory publishing’ describes a phenomenon in which a publisher charges expensive fees for guaranteed publication while failing to provide peer review or even basic editing.[1]

Reputable Open Access publishers clearly advertise their quality-control systems. For example at OBP we emphasise our rigorous peer-review system, as well as the high standard of our editing and production work – and this is evident in our publications, which are easy to check precisely because they are Open Access. Meanwhile the well-established publishers who produce Open Access work, such as Cambridge University Press, do not throw their quality control out of the window when they publish books or articles on an Open Access basis.[2] Continue reading

Image

Copyright and licensing – what do I need to know?


https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0090

Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash

When you create original work, you possess the copyright.[1] When you wish to publish that work, some publishers might ask you to sign the copyright over to them as a condition of publication, so that they can disseminate the work exclusively and therefore maximise its profitability. However, you do not have to agree to this – you can ask to retain copyright, or to transfer only a limited number of your rights to the publisher.

Pay attention to the contract the publisher is asking you to sign, make sure you understand it, and negotiate if you are unhappy with any of the terms. Be aware that signing away exclusive rights to the publisher might mean that you are not able to republish the work yourself in future, if for example you wish to republish a journal article as a chapter in a book. Continue reading

Image

Green, Gold, Diamond, Black – what does it all mean?


https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0089

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

There’s a lot of jargon surrounding Open Access publication, and as with all jargon it can confuse and obfuscate. Here is a simple glossary: Continue reading

Image

APCs, BPCs, can I have some money please – who pays for OA?


https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0088

Photo by Ramiro Mendes on Unsplash

This is one of the most important questions for authors: if the reader doesn’t pay, who does? BPCs (Book Processing Charges) and APCs (Article Processing Charges) are fees levied on authors, their institutions or their funding bodies to pay for Open Access publishing (also known as author-side fees). Continue reading