In chapter six of Hayes book My Mother Was A Computer, the idea of original work is questioned again. This is something that has been intensely discussed among SHU English majors.
“The author creates his literary property through exercise of his original genius, yet it is clear that writing is always a matter of appropriation and transformation…A literary tradition must proceed an author’s inscriptions for literature to be possible as such, yet this same appropriation and reworking of an existing tradition is said to produce an ‘original’ work.”
Some of the biggest works come from reworking of old ideas like vampires in Twilight, witches in Harry Potter, and Battle Royale for Hunger Games. (Obviously, some of these were better done than others.) These works, as we were discussing in the last class, are original because of their phrasing and how they put the words together, not so much the idea.
Cliche-phrases get started as great and innovative ways of comparing something. So not even the way words are put together is original because we have definitions for how things are described (metaphor, simile) and how words are put together (alliteration).
Something I’ve been thinking about is how books that turn into movies seem to lose their author credit. It becomes about how the actors portray the characters, how the director chose to shoot certain scenes. The creation becomes someone else’s. Other people are famous for your work. As writers, would you feel comfortable with that?