Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Answers

Latest Newspaper Column:

As my loyal readers remember (at least those without significant short-term memory loss), last week's column concerning plagiarism was, well, largely plagiarized. But it was all in fun, because I promised an autographed copy of my second novel, Good Day In Hell, to the first reader who could get all of the plagiarized (sorry, I meant "internalized") bits.

Well, I had quite a few entrants via the miracle of e-mail, and I can now tell you that the person who got them all was: no one. Color me amazed. Even our beloved publisher, David Woronoff, a literate and well-educated guy, didn't nail all of them.

The answers are, in order of appearance:

1. Call me Ishmael: this one should be (and was) easy. It's the opening line of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.

2. You don't know about 19-year-old Harvard Freshman Kaavya Viswanathan without you have read a book by the name of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, but that ain't no matter: Paraphrases the opening lines of Huckleberry Finn.

3. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times: another one that almost everyone got. It is, of course, the opening line of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

4. As conspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food: From the first chapter of Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely. Hey, come on, you knew that I, of all people, had to throw in a Raymond Chandler reference.

5. Bloody, but unbowed: a line from William Ernest Henley's poem Invictus.

6. The horror! The horror!: Mister Kurtz' last words from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (also Col. Kurtz' last words from Apocalypse Now, but it was Conrad I was looking for).

7. Critics came down like a wolf on the fold: paraphrases the opening lines of Byron's poem, The Destruction of Sennacherib ("The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold/And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold.")

That line was also lampooned by Ogden Nash in his poem, Very Like a Whale. Thanks to the alert reader who missed Byron but got Nash, so I gave him half a point.

8. Gone like a cool breeze: originally written by Chuck Berry in his song, You Can't Catch Me. Not strictly literature, so I didn't hold it against you if you missed it.

9. Something rotten in the state of publishing: paraphrases a line from Hamlet: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

10. Lord, what fools these publishers be!: Comes from Puck's line in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream: "Lord what fools these mortals be!"

11. Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to become a rich and famous author? Paraphrases the last words of Hunter S. Thompson's book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972: "Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to become president?"

12. Sulking in my tent: refers to Achilles, who spent a good part of Homer's The Iliad sulking in his tent.

13. Beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past is part of the last line of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

14. Humble Narrator: Alex, the antihero of Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, always refers to himself as "Your Humble Narrator."

15. That's my story and I'm sticking to it: Another music reference that I didn't really hold against anyone if they missed. It's the chorus of a song written by Colin Raye and performed by Jimmy Buffett.

16. If this be plagiarism, let us make the most of it: This was part of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech: "If this be treason, let us make the most of it."

Anyway, while nobody got them all, it seems mean-spirited not a give the prize to the person who came closest. So, to reader Ruth Greiner from the DorothyL listeserv, congratulations! The book's on the way as soon as you send me your snail-mail address. Enjoy.

Oops! It seems that we're almost out of space. There's certainly not enough left to do justice to a political or social topic.

So, in the time left, I'd just like to say: Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you, and thanks for everything.


Urrican said...

As to Hunter Thompson's question, Lord hope we've already seen the worst.

Elwyn Darden said...

I barely cleared 50% on the plagarism test, but a friend of mine clobbered it. She further made the observation that the song by Colin Raye (1993) is a treatment of a passage in Baja, Oklahoma by Dan Jenkins (1981). Hammock and all.

So, it is literary in origin.