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A citation question/poll....
blaisepascal
"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space, listen..."


I saw the above quote attributed to "Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" today and it irked me. In DA's novel, the quote was attributed to The Guide, and in the radio play, The Narrator was reading it from The Guide.

Another example would be:

The first time I was a drill instructor I was too inexperienced for the job--the things I taught those lads must have got some of them killed. War is too serious a matter to be taught by the inexperienced.


I have seen other things from the exact same source attributed to Robert Heinlein, but Heinlein (to the best of my knowledge) was never a DI. It seems to me that it should be more appropriate to attribute it to Lazarus Long, a character of Heinlein's, but I've seen it more often attributed to Heinlein.

On the other hand, I have never heard of anyone attributing "Live Long and Prosper" to Roddenberry, but rather to Spock. "When you have eliminated the impossible..." is cited from Sherlock Holmes more than form Doyle, and there are many other cases where it is typical to give credit to the character who said it, not the author.

Are there rule for this sort of thing? How would you prefer to see the HHGG and TEFL quotations attributed?

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I site the author. The character doesn't exist. It's the author who originated the line.

What Eva said. The line came from the author, even if it was technically spoken by someone else. If I wrote a book and one of its lines was oft-repeated I'd want it attributed to me too.

In my opinion, context is everything. The context of the line is of the book, or the character who spoke it in the book, not just the author. Taking the line out of that context can easily send the wrong message.

Which of these four citations do you think is more appropriate?

"I find your lack of faith...disturbing"

-- George Lucas
-- Star Wars, George Lucas
-- Darth Vader, Star Wars, George Lucas
-- Darth Vader, Star Wars

I personally feel that the first one is misleading, the second is better, but the third one is the most complete. It provides full context, so you know the quote isn't George's point of view but know he wrote it for a character.

I disagree with the other commenters, to me it looks they are attributed the words TO Douglas Adams like he said them. If we didn't know it was a fiction novel it would be an issue. What if one of the characters said something about their political stance, or said something racist... just think about how those things could be portrayed if you put something into his mouth that was in the words of one of the characters in the book.

You don't see Tom Sawyers speech being quoted as Mark Twain's. I would say that you need to cite the character, the source, and the author.

Edited at 2009-06-18 01:53 am (UTC)

That's basically my feeling. That's one of the reasons I picked the Lazarus Long quote: It's something the character would/could say, but Heinlein would never say himself because it asserts something about the speaker which is not true for Heinlein. That doesn't mean he'd disagree with the message (not bloody likely, since Laz is basically a stand-in for Heinlein), but that it wouldn't be a true statement for him.


for the sake of accuracy, any such quote should be attributed to the fictional character and the author who created the character. but i see it as a tribute to the author's skill, to have created a character so "real" that people feel as if the line belongs to the character more than to the author.


I think it adequate to name the work of fiction, so as to make it self-evident that the author did not say it at a party on in a letter to his cousin or whatever. The name of the character is not required. In other words, I think your annoyance unreasonable and the citation adequate.

(There is another case - "Elementary, my dear Watson" should be attributed to Holmes rather than to Doyle because that particular sequence of words first appeared else-medium, and Doyle's Holmes never said exactly that).

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