Brian Aldiss plagiarism?

Extollager

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Here is an excerpt from Gustav Krist's Alone Through the Forbidden Land (English translation by Lorimer, 1939):

---If you want to brew it [tarantula schnapps] you catch a number of poisonous spiders, put them in a glass, and throw in some scraps of dried apples or apricots. The furious brutes fling themselves on the food and bite into it. They thus inject their poison into the dry fruit, which you then mix with fermented grapes. Thirty or forty tarantulas make about a quart of the deadly brew. A tiny glass of this liqueur is enough to drive a man insane. Half an hour after he has drunk it the victim is so paralysed that he cannot move; an hour later he is raving mad.---

Aldiss, in Somewhere East of Life (1994) as found on Google Books:

Somewhere East of Life

Scanning the edition posted by Google, I didn't find any acknowledgment of Krist's book. I'm not accusing Aldiss of plagiarism, but asking whether it has occurred.
 

Ray McCarthy

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But Krist was told this by someone else ... I've heard something similar
Tarantula schnapps, the forester told Krist, has been known and used in Turkistan from time immemorial. If you want to brew it, you catch a number of the poisonous spiders, put them in a glass, and throw in some scraps of dried apples or apricots. The furious brutes fling themselves on the food and bite into it. They thus inject their poison into the dry fruit, which you then mix with fermented grapes. Thirty or forty tarantulas make about a quart of the deadly brew. A tiny glass of this liqueur is enough to drive a man insane. Half an hour after he has drunk it the victim is so paralyzed that he cannot move; an hour later he is raving mad.

The caretaker of the caravanserai used to dope his guests with this tarantula schnapps, and as soon as paralysis set in, he threw them to the bear, who did the rest. The Russians condemned the man to death, but in the night the Sarts (local Uzbeks or Tajiks) broke into the prison and fetched him out into the desert. They tied him with ropes to the saddles of two swift camels Uand~ stuffed pepper in their behinds so that the infuriated animals dashed out into the desert dragging the body of the hundredfold murderer after them. A few days later his skeleton was found, picked clean by the vultures.
Tarantula Schnapps
I can't see any Aldiss text via your link.

My understanding is that Krist is recounting, not making up that passage?
 
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tinkerdan

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It sounds like Krist retold something he heard, which in a way put it in public domain in that it was probably local lore. And Aldiss repackaged it a bit.

My question might be whether it has an importance to the plot, I would hope it does; because without that it would become questionable that he would need to have it in the story at all. I guess I would have to read Somewhere East of Life.

At best it might raise eyebrows either way, but since it is a character retelling the same lore, so to speak, I can't see that it's plagiarism.

Now you might go after that Nastiklof character if you want to catch the real plagiarist.
 
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Extollager

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If one is able to compare the Krist passage and the Aldiss passage, one will see that there is not only content in common, but phrases too, such that I would have thought the later writer should credit the earlier, which perhaps he did somewhere that I missed.
 

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Aldiss did change furious brutes fling to horrible brutes flung and fermented grapes to fermented wine but is that enough to be original? Reminds me of Charles N. Brown accusing Gardner Dozois of lifting material directly out of Locus without giving credit. Don't think Aldiss should be dragged into court but he probably should have said something.
 

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Can't read the linked material either, but from what you say, it sure sounds like plagiarism to me. If there is nothing in the context that I'm unaware of, I disagree. He most certainly should be sued.
 

hitmouse

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Can't read the linked material either, but from what you say, it sure sounds like plagiarism to me. If there is nothing in the context that I'm unaware of, I disagree. He most certainly should be sued.
Sued by whom and for what purpose?
The original piece was published in 1939. If it is not public domain, if the author actually has an estate, it would be interesting to see what damages might be awarded and whether they would cover anything much at all. It may be that this paragraph is closely derived, as above, but what about the rest of the piece?
 

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Sued by whom and for what purpose?
The original piece was published in 1939. If it is not public domain, if the author actually has an estate, it would be interesting to see what damages might be awarded and whether they would cover anything much at all. It may be that this paragraph is closely derived, as above, but what about the rest of the piece?
I don't know Austrian or UK copyright law, but I'd bet even money Krist's work is still covered. It is highly probable that Krist has a legal heir. Maybe more to the point is that the TRANSLATION is probably under copyright as well. That fellow might even still be alive for all I know. I suspect calculating damages would be a rather unpredictable process but that doesn't mean you couldn't get a worthwhile amount. I wouldn't be surprised if there is more to this than we've heard here. Since BOTH writers are fairly well known it seems unlikely Aldiss would risk plagiarism. But if, in fact, there was nothing to legitimize this, then he shouldn't be excused just because he is well known, or old, or British, while the victim is foreign and dead (or an heir of a dead man, more precisely).

As to the purposes, I should think that is obvious. Partially for financial reasons, but mainly for justice.
 

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I don't know Austrian or UK copyright law, but I'd bet even money Krist's work is still covered. It is highly probable that Krist has a legal heir. Maybe more to the point is that the TRANSLATION is probably under copyright as well. That fellow might even still be alive for all I know. I suspect calculating damages would be a rather unpredictable process but that doesn't mean you couldn't get a worthwhile amount. I wouldn't be surprised if there is more to this than we've heard here. Since BOTH writers are fairly well known it seems unlikely Aldiss would risk plagiarism. But if, in fact, there was nothing to legitimize this, then he shouldn't be excused just because he is well known, or old, or British, while the victim is foreign and dead (or an heir of a dead man, more precisely).

As to the purposes, I should think that is obvious. Partially for financial reasons, but mainly for justice.
Most countries are now "life + 70 years" (including Austria, UK and America). Krist died in 1937 and Lorimer in 49. So I guess Krist no longer and Lorimer still just. But of course it all depends when Aldiss wrote that. Also, to be fair, a passage of half a dozen lines in an entire book seems rather little to be getting too hot under the collar over and might indeed be too little. I know you can take extracts of someone else's music and use them in your own music so long as they don't exceed some specific length (though I've no idea how long that length is :oops:).
 

hitmouse

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As to the purposes, I should think that is obvious. Partially for financial reasons, but mainly for justice.

It is not at all obvious that litigation would produce justice, when a simple acknowledgement (if warranted) might suffice. Litigation might simply line the pockets of some lawyers.
 

tinkerdan

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There is a small chance that it would be obvious where the extract was taken from but I maintain that its the telling of a story that was told to or overheard by Krist and was not original to him though he may have embellished in his own way or he may have told the story the way it came to him and in any case the Aldiss version does come quite close with just enough changes. Aldiss published in 1994 and the Krist translation did make a resurfacing about that time (1992) so it is likely that he picked it up from there as there seem to be few if any other references to Tarantula schnapps.

So once again a citation might be superfluous. And the only other thought goes back to 'shame on him' if it is not integral to the plot, because it becomes gratuitous expository filler perhaps used to further demonstrate something about Nastiklof's character.
 

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Most countries are now "life + 70 years" (including Austria, UK and America). Krist died in 1937 and Lorimer in 49. So I guess Krist no longer and Lorimer still just. But of course it all depends when Aldiss wrote that.
Wouldn't when he PUBLISHED it be more to the point? Taking Extollager at his word, 94. So both parties would have standing. Anyway, plagiarism and copyright violation are distinctly different concepts. Plagiarism may constitute a crime, such as IP theft or even slander, but in and of itself is a moral, not legal issue and there is no time limit. Not that you can sue for plagiarism itself AFAIK, but if you can sue for a tort such as IP theft, this can serve as a proxy for the plagiarism. For that matter, since this is often viewed as a species of theft, I'm not sure there isn't a possibility of criminal liability, not merely civil. Morally, use of somebody else's work, and if what has been said here is correct and there aren't any missing facts (which I suspect there are), then that is clearly what happened, without indicating the origin of the passage is reprehensible. It isn't "fair use" when you imply it is your own.


Also, to be fair, a passage of half a dozen lines in an entire book seems rather little to be getting too hot under the collar over and might indeed be too little.
It is quite enough to show that the chance of it being coincidence is absurdly small. We might as well wait for the monkey to type Othello.
 

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Some countries go on publication date particularly for films but most (including the countries mentioned hear) go purely upon the life of the author. So the estate keeps copyright for 70 years after the author's death.
 

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Some countries go on publication date particularly for films but most (including the countries mentioned hear) go purely upon the life of the author. So the estate keeps copyright for 70 years after the author's death.
Sorry, I keep trying to weed pronouns out of my writing. Assuming, you are responding to the post directly above yours, specifically to:
Wouldn't when he PUBLISHED it be more to the point?
I meant when ALDISS published. My sentence was in response to the one immediately before in the quotation, specifically:
But of course it all depends when Aldiss wrote that.
 
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Lew Rockwell Fan

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The link in message #1 above works fine for me...
It isn't a bad link. The problem is pr'ly either that google requires some script or object we're blocking or that it isn't compatible with large font settings. Either way, reconfiguring just to look at that and then restoring preferred settings, would be too much hassle. Damn the Google Monster anyway. I'll just take your word for what's there. You strike me as a sensible sort.
 
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Ray McCarthy

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He most certainly should be sued
Not if they are both retelling a real world source. It seems to me the earlier author is retelling, quoting, not inventing, thus Plagiarism doesn't apply.
The problem is pr'ly either that google requires some script or object we're blocking
Probably, and I'm prepared to believe @Extollager that it's near identical, but it's probably not Krist's invention, not his copyright.
If I thought otherwise, I'd figure why the link doesn't work and read it.
 

Extollager

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I will attempt to load a screen shot of the Aldiss passage.

If you are able to see the Aldiss passage, you may have an opinion regarding whether its similarities to the Krist passage are such as to suggest plagiarism, given that, so far as I, at least, can tell, there's no acknowledgement of Krist anywhere in Aldiss's book. In any event, it's an interesting parallel.

Aliss.jpg
 

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