Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Plagiarism and ghost-writing

A senior professor of English literature at Tuft University, US, has concluded in her Post Doctoral thesis that right from the beginning, very few works in the realm of literature have been original. Most of them are either plagiarised, ghost-written or wrongly attributed. Plagiarism and ghost-writing have existed throughout the history of world literature, irrespective of countries, eras and languages. It's now almost confirmed that Roman emperor and philosopher (a bizarre combination indeed!) Marcus Aurelius and Julius Caesar's works in Latin were ghost written by Fenigur and a host of others respectively.


Professor Bulwar Lytton, father of Indian Viceroy Lord Lytton, wrote in his volume (first edition), 'The Last Days of Pompeii' about Caesar that, ' He couldn't wield the quill as adroitly as he could wield a sword.' At the risk of sounding outright blasphemous to the ethnocentric Bengalis who worship Rabindranath Tagore like a god, let me ask, 'Did he write all the 103 mystic poems in Gitanjali which won him the Nobel in Literature in 1913?'



His estranged friend, poet and mentor William Butler Yeats had this lurking doubt. Macmillan's publisher and editor also doubted whether Tagore wrote all these poems without anyone else's help. When Yeats fell out with Tagore by 1930s, he wrote scathingly, 'Gitanjali is seventy five percent plagiarised and ghost-written and twenty five percent of it is original.' It's worthwhile to mention that many of the verses in Gitanjali  appear to have been heavily influenced by the Persian mystic Hafiz Shirazi's mysticism.


Tagore's father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore was a scholar of Persian and he was so fond of Shirazi's mystical poems that he jotted down many of them in  Bengali. Tagore didn't know Persian. But he had an access to his father's diary in which Debendranath wrote Hafiz's poems in Bengali along with his notes. Tagore simply versified those jottings into English. Abul Fazal's famed 'Aine-Akbari's second half is stylistically quite different and far better than the first half because now it's beyond doubt that it was quilled by his brother and one of the nine gems in Akbar's court Faizi whose Persian was better than that of Abul Fazal.


Abul Fazal began to lose his eye-sight rapidly halfway through the tome. Professors Syed Hassan Askari and  Aligarh historian Muhammad Mujeeb were of the same opinion that a big chunk of Aina-e-Akbari was ghost-written. Alas, no one mentions Faizi's name as the co-author of the book! He ghost-wrote it and faded into oblivion.

But in fact, many ghost writers, including yours truly, prefer to fade into oblivion if they get handsome amount by writing for others. The fact is, ghost writing has always been in vogue and it's much more in demand nowadays when empty-headed celebrities, actors, players and politicians want to see their names in print but can't string a few words together. They seek the services of professional ghost-writers.

Yours truly ghosted for quite a few celebrities in exchange of filthy lucre and frankly speaking, it's financially better and viable than writing for publications and waiting for a paltry sum because those who employ ghost writers, are ready to pay any damn amount at the drop of a hat. So long live ghost-writing!


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