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Plus ca change... in, of all things, fan fiction!
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lil_shepherd
I was listening this morning, as you do, to In Our Time which was on Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Sterne. Now, I have had no great urge to read this book, which I know by reputation only. Not my scene, really.

However, what I didn't know, and what no one (no, not even the English Lit/History academics on my flist) have told me was that, as that novel was being published in all its volumes over a number of years, other people wrote and published what can only be considered fan fiction of all types -- continuations, fix-its, revised histories and so on.

And Stern loved it! He adored being a celebrity and this just, as he apparently said himself, publicised his work and made him even more well known and popular. (Also, that as Sterne 'borrowed' passages from elsewhere - from Cicero to Locke to Swift - all over the shop it would have been hypercritical of him, to say to the least, to do so. And it continues today -- apparently the opening of Midnight's Children owes a lot to Sterne.

I've never seen this brought up before, and I wonder, why not?

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I believe Cervantes wrote Part II of Don Quixote because so many other people were writing about the Don (and making money from it — there was no law against derivative works in those days) that he felt his own character had been grabbed away from him.

Apparently Don Quixote was one of the many works Sterne himself was borrowing from.

And, of course, one can view the whole Arthurian corpus as a kind of fan fic: almost all the 'big' works have many continuations and variations by other hands.

Going even further back in time, the Apocryphal Gospels could be considered Christian fanfic.

The palaver slightly earlier in the century about Samuel Richardson's Pamela is interesting as well. Criticism, praise, discussion, really heated arguments, imitations, satires, plays, paintings, engravings, waxworks ... even Pamela-themed accessories, which led to possibly the first fan-art fan art.

I knew that people went a bit wild about Tristram Shandy as well but although I knew there was a lot of discussion and impatient waiting for the next installment I hadn't realised that there was contemporary fan fiction. I wonder how the writers coped with Sterne's narrative techniques...

I suspect your answer is "because it would undermine the official academic narrative about fanfic" -- possibly with a side of "You can't call that fanfic, because fanfic hadn't even been invented yet!" (Which is a separate fallacy, but a very common one.)

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I adore Tristram Shandy. One of my favourite books, and a joy to read. But I didn't know there had been fan fic of it.

I'd love to read some of that as well.

This happened to Dumas with The Three Musketeers, too.

I knew it happened a fair amount in the 19th Century and anyone could do anything at all with other people's work in the 16th and earlier. I was surprised by it being usual in the 18th Century, when people were getting a bit more possessive about their published work.

I have a friend who's studied Arthuriana, and says a huge amount of that was the fan fiction of the period (12th and 13th centuries?).

I'm currently reading Lin Carter's A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings, and it's pretty clear that much other heroic literature was similarly riffing off an original.

That's a new one on me, too! Thanks for flagging this up.

BTW, not sure if you got the message or not yesterday, but your email account appeared to have been hacked.

Thank you. I didn't get any messages, but Mel said the same on Facebook. The screenshot she sent suggested it was the joint mail account with Inamac, not my personal email. If it was the account under my real name, please let me know.

It was the joint one with Ina, not your personal one.

Thanks. We were pretty sure it was that one. I've changed the password. From the people who seemed to have been spammed it may have been one of Ina's accounts.

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