Suppose an individual wrote a replica of a famous author’s book and that replica is artistically and literarily finer than the original. Despite the attributes of the latter, this ‘replica’ would be deemed a fake, a copy, basically plagiarism. Now suppose an individual reading these two books has no knowledge of the different authorship. The reader would most assuredly choose the ‘copy’ as the superior piece. In this blog post I will endeavor to discover, with the help of Michael Foucault’s Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology and Jorge Luis Borges’s Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, whether or not the author’s name hinders or excels a work of literature.
First of all I would like to consider the former; an author’s name as a hindrance to success. Pierre Menard is a spectacular example of this. An exemplary author, Menard’s life work was to write an already existing book. To say this was not easy is a gross understatement. Years of drafting, writing, rewriting, and reflection allowed Menard to write a 17th century novel nearly a century later. Rather than get the praise deserved for this effort (which in my opinion was more effort than that put in by Miguel Cervantes himself in the writing of Don Quixote), some have labelled Menard as a copy cat.
” Those who have insinuated that Menard devoted his life to writing a contemporary Quixote besmirch his illustrious memory. Pierre Menard did not want to compose another Quixote, which surely is easy enough, he wanted to compose The Quixote. Nor, surely need one be obliged to note that this goal was never a mechanical transcription of the original; he had no intention of copying it. His admirable ambition was to produce a “number of pages which coincided – word for word and line for line – with those of Miguel de Cervantes” .” (Jorge Louis Borges Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote – page 91, paragraph2 )
The above quote shows us that despite fantastic work and true literary talent, a piece of literature will be biasedly judged due to authorship. If an author is well known, anything resembling that author’s work will be considered a stolen copy, regardless if that ‘copy’ is exceeding in quality.
Despite the negative aspects I have laid out, an author’s name can be quite beneficial to success if the piece is written by a distinguished author.
“When one says “Aristotle,” one employs a word that is the equivalent of one, or a series, of definite descriptions, such as “the author of the Analytics, ” “the founder of ontology,” and so forth.” (Foucault – page 209, paragraph 4)
Basically one has to but read the name ‘Aristotle’, and the reader will automatically know that what he or she is reading is a sound, excellent piece of literature. The individual will not doubt its sincerity and origin. It is my strong opinion that even if a book or paper were to be ‘not all that’, yet written by a esteemed, reliable author, that piece of work would be considered worthy of attention and most likely be read far and wide.
In summation, I believe that if authors’ names were to be left out of the equation when considering pieces of literature, we would read and choose our readings much differently. So often books get set aside because of dislike for authorship associations or an author’s other works. Literature should go above the individual author. It is not the conveyor of a work who matters, it is the devotion, talent, knowledge, and skill of communication in the actual literature that seems relevant to me.