In the Arts

The history of the arts
Through all of the history of literature and of the arts in general, works of art are for a large part repetitions of the tradition; to the entire history of artistic creativity belong plagiarism, literary theft, appropriation, incorporation, retelling, rewriting, recapitulation, revision, reprise, thematic variation, ironic retake, parody, imitation, stylistic theft, pastiches, collages, and deliberate assemblages. There is no rigorous and precise distinction between practices like imitation, stylistic plagiarism, copy, replica and forgery. These appropriation procedures are the main axis of a literate culture, in which the tradition of the canonic past is being constantly rewritten.

Ruth Graham quotes T.S. Eliot--"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal. Bad poets deface what they take."--she notes that despite the "taboo" of plagiarism, the ill-will and embarrassment it causes in the modern context, readers seem to often forgive the past excesses of historic literary offenders.

Praisings of artistic plagiarism
A passage of Laurence Sterne's 1767 Tristram Shandy, condemns plagiarism by resorting to plagiarism. Oliver Goldsmith commented:
Sterne's Writings, in which it is clearly shewn, that he, whose manner and style were so long thought original, was, in fact, the most unhesitating plagiarist who ever cribbed from his predecessors in order to garnish his own pages. It must be owned, at the same time, that Sterne selects the materials of his mosaic work with so much art, places them so well, and polishes them so highly, that in most cases we are disposed to pardon the want of originality, in consideration of the exquisite talent with which the borrowed materials are wrought up into the new form.

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