Books: The Birth Of A Novel

Is a black version of Gone With the Wind parody or plagiarism? And why you should give a damn

Thank the gods that copyright law was not discovered in the Iron Age. If it had been, and if Homer had been succeeded by some litigious heirs, the vast trove of Western literature derived or extrapolated from the Iliad and Odyssey--including Vergil's Aeneid, Dante's Inferno, Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, Tennyson's Ulysses, Joyce's Ulysses--might not exist. And what damages would today's judges award Christopher Marlowe? He wrote a wildly popular poem called The Passionate Shepherd to His Love that was answered, in identical verse form, by Sir Walter Raleigh in his The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd. Then...

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