Quotations about   plagiarism

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What is originality? Undetected plagiarism. This is probably itself a plagiarism, but I cannot remember who said it before me. If originality means thinking for oneself, and not thinking differently from other people, a man does not forfeit his claim to it by saying things which have occurred to others.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
London Evening Standard (1927)

Parallel to this, in James Marchant, ed., Wit and Wisdom of Dean Inge (1927), Inge is cited as saying, "Originality, I fear, is too often only undetected and frequently unconscious plagiarism."

The sentiment is, appropriately, not original with Inge; see here for more discussion and earlier uses.
Added on 14-Sep-20 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
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In art, there are only two types of people: revolutionaries and plagiarists. And in the end, doesn’t the revolutionary’s work become official, once the State takes it over?

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) French painter [Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin]
Letter in Le Soir (25 Apr 1895)

Collected in Daniel Guérin, ed., The Writings of a Savage (1996) [tr. Levieux].

Often given as "Art is either plagiarism or revolution," or sometimes "Art is either a revolutionist or a plagiarist." This is often cited from James Huneker, The Pathos of Distance (1913), but there it is given as a paraphrase: "Paul Gauguin has said that in art one is either a plagiarist or a revolutionary."

(Huneker's book elsewhere contains the parallel paraphrase, "Paul Gauguin has said that all artists are either revolutionists or reactionists.")
Added on 2-Apr-20 | Last updated 2-Apr-20
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Plagiarize,
Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don’t shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize —
Only be sure always to call it, please, “research”.

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
“Lobachevsky,” Songs by Tom Lehrer (1953)
Added on 11-Feb-16 | Last updated 11-Feb-16
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Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“Philip Massinger,” The Sacred Wood (1920)
Added on 28-Apr-15 | Last updated 28-Apr-15
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It is certain that I cannot always distinguish my own thoughts from those I read, because what I read becomes the very substance and text of my mind.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
(Attributed)

After being accused of plagiarism. In James R. Kincaid, "Purloined Letters," New Yorker (20 Jan 1997)
Added on 21-Apr-15 | Last updated 21-Apr-15
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Though old the thought and oft exprest,
‘Tis his at last who says it best.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
“For an Autograph,” Under the Willows and Other Poems (1868)
Added on 14-Apr-15 | Last updated 14-Apr-15
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If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.

Wilson Mizner (1876-1933) American screenwriter and wit
In Alva Johnson, The Legendary Mizners, ch. 4 (1953)
Added on 7-Apr-15 | Last updated 7-Apr-15
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About the most originality that enny writer kan hope tew arrive at honestly, now-a-days, is tew steal with good judgment.

[About the most originality that any writer can hope to arrive at honestly, nowadays, is to steal with good judgment.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Josh Billings on Ice, and Other Things, ch. 41 “Orphan Children” (1868)
    (Source)

Variant: "About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment."
Added on 3-Jun-14 | Last updated 3-Jun-14
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Whatever is well said by another, is mine.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Letters to Lucilius [Epistulae morales ad Lucilium], letter 16 “On Philosophy, the Guide of Life,” sec. 7

Alt. trans.: "Whatever is well said by anyone is mine." [tr. Gummere (1918)]
Added on 15-Aug-08 | Last updated 5-May-15
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Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear, but forgetting where you heard it.

Lawrence J. Peter (1919-1990) American educator, management theorist
The Peter Principle (1969)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Apr-20
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