If Homer was really a poet’s guild reciting and refining a couple of great tales over centuries — a notion popularized in the 1960′s, and a notion that I’ve latched onto — then are we writing anything that way today?
Copyright laws and plagiarism rules keep us from improving on our forebears’ work. Yet nothing comes from nothing. Or nothing much.
Survey courses, maybe all of literary criticism, are attempts to hear a chorus instead of a simple series of solos. So instead of Homer, we hear Cleanth Brooks, Claude Levi-Strauss, etc. We hear music on paper.
Reading two or three novels at once is my single stand against this dark side of intellectual property law. When my simple mind conflates the characters and plots, and even the tones and themes, I feel like one of Zeus’ eagles sent to soar over the assembly.