By Susan Stewart
From the origins of contemporary copyright in early eighteenth-century tradition to the efforts to symbolize nature and dying in postmodern fiction, this pioneering publication explores a chain of difficulties in regards to the containment of illustration. Stewart specializes in particular instances of "crimes of writing"--the forgeries of George Psalmanazar, the construction of "fakelore," the "ballad scandals" of the eighteenth and 19th centuries, the imposture of Thomas Chatterton, and modern laws relating to graffiti and pornography. during this means, she emphasizes the problems which come up as soon as language is visible as an issue of estate and authorship is seen as a question of originality. eventually, Stewart demonstrates that crimes of writing are delineated via the legislations simply because they in particular undermine the prestige of the legislations itself: the crimes light up the irreducible incontrovertible fact that legislation is written and as a result topic to temporality and interpretation.
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Extra resources for Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation
Hence we might conclude that plagiarism's misrepresentation is deemed separable from that of forgery. Certainly, plagiarism is quite clearly connected to imposture, for the plagiarist poses as the originator of a discourse, making claims that the discourse bears a productive relation to his or her person. 45 But literary forgery and pirating involve claims of ownership and theft and hence are more readily covered by copyright law as a law of property. Although a forger, unlike a plagiarist, makes a claim for the authenticity of a document rather than for the authenticity of himself or herself as a site of production, a forger is in fact often caught because of the "unnatural" relations between himself or herself and the document.
The result of these two characteristics, these two goals, is a development of a particular form of authorial subjectivity, responsible for an unbearable originality and for the development of a notion of literary system as a matter of intertextuality, allusion, notation, and reference. All the devices of textual connection here reify a textual singularity and Crimes of Writing 23 mime the systematization of literary production. Thus I have intended the essays here on the concept of "distressed genres" to focus on the temporal emergence of literary forms and the nostalgia for authenticity and subjectivity inherent in this Romantic relation to time.
Psalmanazar presented the bishop with a Church of England catechism translated into "Formosan," and for the next four years Psalmanazar's imposture was a complete success. Although Father Fountcnay, a Jesuit missionary to China, criticized him at a public meeting of the Royal Society, Psalmanazar successfully rebutted the accusations. In 1704, at the expense of Bishop Compton and his friends, he spent six months at Oxford, where he studied a variety of subjects and gave popular lectures on "Formosan" practices, including human sacrifice.