Background.

Shakespeare derived some of his plots from old tales and legends in general circulation; but it seems to me, that some of the gentlemen of your craft, at the present day, have shot very far beyond him.” is a quotation from Nicholas Nickleby (Chapter 48).

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, more commonly referred to as Nicholas Nickleby, is the third novel by Charles Dickens, originally serialised between 1838 and 1839.

 

Context.

Quotation said by Nicholas Nickleby, talking to a ‘literary gentleman’ about copying works for free.

Taken from the following passage in Chapter 48 of Nicholas Nickleby:

‘When I dramatise a book, sir,’ said the literary gentleman, ‘that’s fame. For its author.’

‘Oh, indeed!’ rejoined Nicholas.

‘That’s fame, sir,’ said the literary gentleman.

‘So Richard Turpin, Tom King, and Jerry Abershaw have handed down to fame the names of those on whom they committed their most impudent robberies?’ said Nicholas.

‘I don’t know anything about that, sir,’ answered the literary gentleman.

‘Shakespeare dramatised stories which had previously appeared in print, it is true,’ observed Nicholas.

‘Meaning Bill, sir?’ said the literary gentleman. ‘So he did. Bill was an adapter, certainly, so he was—and very well he adapted too—considering.’

‘I was about to say,’ rejoined Nicholas, ‘that Shakespeare derived some of his plots from old tales and legends in general circulation; but it seems to me, that some of the gentlemen of your craft, at the present day, have shot very far beyond him—’

‘You’re quite right, sir,’ interrupted the literary gentleman, leaning back in his chair and exercising his toothpick. ‘Human intellect, sir, has progressed since his time, is progressing, will progress.’

 

 

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