danielwallace.org


File under: Humor

“Ambrose apologized for inadvertently quoting some passages in full . . .”
The Times

“I mistook a quote in my notes for my own words.”
Doris Godwin

§§§§§

Apology


It has come to my attention that some of the passages in my most recent novel, A Day in Dublin, were inadvertently plagiarized. How this came to happen is, as most fiction writers know all too well, an understandable phenomenon, but one which nevertheless should in the course of editing be dealt with, and in the following cases it wasn’t, and I apologize.

1) On page 1, first paragraph, my hero, Steve Dedleus says, “I grow old, I grow old, I shall buy a new pair of trousers later today, oh, my yes.” Clearly, this is a reference to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I have mentioned in many interviews and articles what a huge influence Eliot had on my writing, and in such cases it’s not surprising that, completely inadvertently, images from his writing would infiltrate my own, but in this case the infiltration is probably a bit much. I apologize.

2) On page 2. “All happy families are alike; all unhappy families are probably a lot like mine.” I thought this was completely my own. Imagine my surprise when it was brought to my attention that something like it was originally written by Tolstoy, who in fact I have never read in my life. My apologies.

3) On page 3. The following dialogue occurs between two minor characters.

“Well then who’s on first?”
“Yes!”
“ I mean the fellow’s name!”
“Who!”
“ The guy on first!”
“Who!”
“The first baseman!”
“Who!”
“The guy playing first!”
“Who is on first!”
“Now whaddya askin’ me for?
“I’m telling you Who . . .”

In my forward, I explicitly thank Abbott and Costello for “honing my skills as a humorist.” I thought this covered it. I guess it didn’t. In hindsight, I would have put this passage in quotes, and included a laugh-track.

4) The craft of writing fiction is complicated, laborious, time-consuming, thankless, and labor which goes virtually unpaid. There is just so much paper around. Give me a break.

5) The plot of my novel is said to have been completely borrowed from James Joyce’s Ulysses. This is quite true. But as I have said many times, “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.”

6) On pages 67 – 219. The computer age is a bit of a mystery to this quaint and old-fashioned writer, whose first books, Catch-23 and Lord of the Spies, were written entirely with pencil on scraps of tissue paper. While cutting and pasting A Day in Dublin, I somehow inadvertently downloaded the entirety of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. My apologies to the author.

In closing, I hope these few, careless lapses do not detract from the larger issues my work hopes to address – the plight of the individual in a faceless, corporate world which awards not plain virtue but rather naked ambition and sexual exploits with co-workers. I am sorry. This won’t happen again.

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