In this internet age, misquotation is an illness that runs rampant. In my head, I knew this. As a former scholar and researcher, I knew this. Never go to the internet for research purposes unless you are sure, the surest you could every possibly be, that the resource you are using is legitimate. Boy am I glad that I’m not a teacher having to deal with teaching students about this issue. There doesn’t seem to be any way to curb it.
I guess I kind of forgot about how bad it actually is out there. I’m no longer an academic in an official sense, but literature and research still play a small part in my life. Recent research has once again brought this to my attention. No, I didn’t plagiarize or misquote, but just the same, the work it takes to make sure you are quoting something accurately is huge.
I’m working on a new project, which I’m excited to share with you readers as soon as it’s ready, and it involves quotations from literature. There are lots of things out there that you can buy or share or repost that are supposedly quoted from books and people, famous ones even. But, the reality is, the quote is not right, or, it never even existed in the first place.
Incorrect quotations and mistaken attributions are everywhere. An example that is both good and bad is the infamous quote from Pride and Prejudice: “You have bewitched me body and soul.” This quote is from the movie and appears nowhere in the actual text of Jane Austen’s story. It’s a beautiful line to be sure, one of my most favorite. But I remember being in college and actually reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I had seen the movie dozens of times, but not read the book. I was surprised to discover that the quote is not true to the story. Today, you can find this quote all over Pinterest and Etsy. And actually, it’s probably sold illegally because the quote is from the movie and therefore not a part of the public domain.
In today’s world, plagiarism, sharing ideas, stealing ideas, design, typography, photography and more is done without a thought. Remember the infamous time the IFL Science blog got called out for not giving credit for the artwork used in posts? That’s a rarity. Since then, the person who maintains that site has started giving credit for the artwork used in postings. But I can’t think of many instances where someone is called out for doing such a thing.
I have writer friends whose work has been stolen and sold on unauthorized sites at a cheaper price than offered on Amazon. In spite of copyrights, these friends have fought with varying degrees of success to maintain hold of their work.
I’m not sure what the solution is. Likely, there is no solution. The masses are free to express themselves on the internet, and thus, sometimes people are misquoted or mistakenly given credit for saying something they didn’t, stories are misremembered and more. This new project of mine has been an eye-opening experience and I have a new sense of admiration (or perhaps pity) for lawmakers who deal with this issue.
But back to quotations. Preservation in writing is something I have aspired to quite ardently for much of my life. And if someone wanted to quote me because whatever it was I wrote was deemed to be moving or beautiful, that would be amazing! But, I don’t want to be misquoted. What a shame it would be to be infamous only to have the wrong idea or thought attributed to me (especially if it were considered offensive). Plus, the researcher and English major in me die hard for correct representation. But, then again, my name would live forever. Kleos, no matter how its achieved, is still tempting.