“It is only meaningful to speak of originality where there is a tradition” – Robert Musil

“thus one could probably ‘dissect’ any writer whatever (formally, or according to subject matter, or even according to the intended meaning), and would find in him nothing but bits and pieces of his predecessors; by no means completely ‘taken apart’ and ‘newly assimilated,’ but preserved in broken shards”

“Thus in serious literature the peculiar situation emerges that the general ongoing tradition and the personal contribution of the individual cannot be separated from each other.  In this process the continuum does not grow in any dimension other than extent, nor does the personal element gain a solid position.  The whole consists of variations that randomly come to rest on each other.”

-Robert Musil, “Literati & Literature”-

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One thought on ““It is only meaningful to speak of originality where there is a tradition” – Robert Musil

  1. Reminds me of a study of Wordworth’s and Coleridge’s library books that clearly showed direct sources for the imagery of the latter’s visionary works.

"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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