Stephen King’s Plagiarism of Albert Camus

One of the keys to the success of Stephen King’s The Shining is the revelation that the main character, Jack Torrance, is going mad: All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.tumblr_lm4fguaftf1qbpsncThe manuscript on which Jack has been working throughout the story contains this same phrase written again over hundreds of pages and is an excellent device to convey his lose of touch with reality.2009shining_chairAnd it this very device that seems to have been plagiarized from Albert Camus’ The Plague in which Grand’s emotional imbalance is realized late in the narrative when Dr. Rieux reads over a manuscript of 50 pages documenting the same phrase again and again:One fine morning in May, a slim young horsewoman might have been seen riding a glossy sorrel mare along the avenues of the Bois, among the flowers…LaPesteAnd while the purpose – and indeed content – is quite different, the device is not. The repeated phrase – a secret held from the reader and all other characters – is only revealed late in the story as a surprise to all. Did King acknowledge his source? Did he give credit to Camus?

Camus Or does he, like so many of the writing workshop gurus, rely on the specious credo that all writers steal from each other. I, for one, am not buying it.

2 thoughts on “Stephen King’s Plagiarism of Albert Camus

  1. RE: not buying it.

    There’s a light-hearted expression in ceramics that anything you want to make has already been made by the Chinese – and probably done better. Yes, it’s complete bull, but it makes the point to know your Chinese ceramics history.

    Not being an English major (or minor) I would image that a basic understanding of all the Greek tragedies – major poets of the ages and play-writes, along with other world literature offerings, like the teachings of Confucius, or Germanic children’s stories,.. would be needed as the foundation for any writer. At the very least, one would know if their story is in parallel with other stories,.. or in a sense have reference to that other story.

    Certainly the ‘Baggage’ of being a writer is to have to navigate between the lines of all that has already been written,.. and not just in English,.. there must be a point where the sheer volume of thoughts overlap and so do we rip-off from other artists and steel their works or make reference to those other works? I don’t know, but I suspect it’s like pornography, I know it when I see it. That then makes it a bad work. But I would not contest Auguste Rodin’s sculpting of knuckles with his sculpture, The Thinker, verses that of Michelangelo’s – David. Clearing, to my eyes, Auguste studied for a weekend or two in Florence, but I do not think that he is being a plagiarist, even though his ‘knuckles’ are very close to that of Michelangelo’s. But then – isn’t a knuckle a knuckle? How many different ways can one possibly No! Both have tremendous inner power and strength.

    It’s funny though, because before museums,.. there was an author/illustrator (sorry don’t know his name) who traveled around Europe recording various works of art,.. that you can now point to seeing again with the ‘same’ image turning up a few years later in a remote part of Europe, with the drawing being on a platter,.. so, clearly here the platter ‘painter’ was ripping off the original work, and the ‘artist’ clearly thought that they could get away with it because no one in their circle would ever be the wiser,.. Now that’s plagiarism,..

    Otherwise, it’s making reference,.. or continuing the dialogue, or paying homage to,..

  2. Profound stuff, hdm. I agree with you on all counts. That said, when a specific device or trait or mannerism is taken and used from another before, that must be acknowledged in some manner. Otherwise it smacks of thievery…to me anyway.

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