“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – (Thomas Mann.)
I have used this quote before. It is something I strongly believe in and is perhaps my favourite quote. I learnt today that it was by Thomas Mann. I also learnt today that the novel I have been working on over the past several months has already been written by Thomas Mann and I hadn’t read it. It is now on order, I shall read it tomorrow and decided to what extent do I need to alter my novel to remove any hint of plagiarism. This reminds me of another favourite quote of mine,
“vanity of vanities, all is vanity, there is nothing new under the sun.”
Who reading this likes Disney films? I do. Two of them express a sentiment much the same as this quote from Ecclesiastes, Peter Pan and Mary Poppins. J. M. Barrie is quoted, “All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.” which is sung in the opening title sequence, and who can forget Bert’s classic line in Mary Poppins,
“Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.”
Now, I am unsure if that line is in P. L. Travers’ books, it has been years since I read them and I think not, but Disney has acknowledged the cycle of storytelling, and life that it is very hard to create anything wholly new, but we are indeed repeatedly flogging a dead horse.
But what successes does that forlorn pony produce! The Lion King and Sons of Anarchy are both highly popular renditions of Hamlet and Shakespeare’s other plays have been reinterpreted a thousand fold. I began a sci-fi novel based on the Noah’s ark story, a story itself which was a rip off of the Atrahasis Epic, but gave up when I realised it had been done twice already in Star Trek Voyager and Battlestar Galactica. We frequently get frustrated when Hollywood produces yet another remake or sequel.
I feel justified then in my Marquis/Mann novel. There are issues and topics that are cross cultural, that persist throughout time, that endure and encourage retellings because they are important enough and fundamental to how we live. I think some are forgotten, maybe for hundreds or thousands of years, but they persist and endure.
The theme for my novel came from a love I once had, in fact the only time I have ever truly been in love if such a thing is possible. The story is about that relationship, about love, desire, betrayal, youth, men, vitality, perversion, Satyrs, Fauns, Maenads, magic, divinity, mortality and as in all great love stories, tragedy. Thomas Mann has undoubtedly got there first, but I hope he would acknowledge that this story is not his alone, to tell.