<i>An Allusion to Horace</i>, Jonson’s Ghost, and the Rhetoric of Plagiarism

Brean S. Hammond

in Professional Imaginative Writing in England, 1670–1740

Published in print March 1997 | ISBN: 9780198112990
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670909 | DOI:
An Allusion to Horace, Jonson’s Ghost, and the Rhetoric of Plagiarism

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This chapter focuses on dramatic writing in the 1670s and 1680s, wherein the problematic nature of borrowing from earlier works was already under heated negotiation. In this milieu, clear financial interests were wrapped up in the issue of allusion. Competing for the production of potentially lucrative playscripts, professional writers saw the theatrical stock of the pre-Civil War era as a rich ground for looting. It was much less prodigal of valuable professional time to annex plots, characters, and dialogue of already proven worth than to create from scratch. Writers could justify this on an aesthetic that required them to make acts of obeisance to eminent literary predecessors. Opponents would seek to deprive them of any honorific status thus collected by making the charge of plagiarism. Examining dramatic practice and the rhetoric of plagiarism as it operates in the literary quarrels between Rochester, Dryden, and Shadwell offers a valuable observation-point on the nature of the first phase of professional writing in England.

Keywords: Dryden; writing; literature; plagiarism; Rochester; Shadwell

Chapter.  8416 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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