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Originality and The Ecstasy of Influence

Are they mutually exclusive? Drawing perhaps from Jonathan Lethem’s The Ecstasy of Influence, discuss the effect of subconscious (or in some cases very conscious) influence by other authors. Is the evidence of another author’s influence in a text a negative thing? Does it render the writer’s work unoriginal?

  • This is a wonderful idea and one that has not been explored enough I think. Writers make other writers better - or so we hope that in a small community we can lift each other up. However, there is the danger that in our subconscious we write the same things we recently read because we loved it and saw it as successful writing. Though I have not read the piece you mentioned, I think the influence can be a good thing because an idea can spiral in so many different directions but it all depends on whose mind the idea is in. So an idea borrowed (whether subconsciously or consciously) can become an original idea once built on and taken in a different direction. Obviously we wouldn't write the same book even if we had the same idea. Not sure how much sense I made but I hope this helps! – Nof 9 years ago

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