Books That Reuse Text From Other Books
October 17, 2014 4:18 AM   Subscribe

What books reuse all or part of the text of another book? I'm looking for works like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, or A Humument, or F***ing Frankenstein, where large chunks of text are transformed but are still recognizable from the original. I am not looking for books like Wicked or The Wind Done Gone, where the story or characters are used but text is entirely original.

Oh, also, I should probably mention that I'm not looking for instances of plagiarism-- I'm looking for works that are completely honest about their use of the original text.

posted by yankeefog to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Best answer: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:38 AM on October 17, 2014

Best answer: Also: Android Karenina
posted by mochapickle at 4:51 AM on October 17, 2014

Best answer: See also: Mashup novels
posted by mochapickle at 4:52 AM on October 17, 2014

The link in "A Humument" is broken.
posted by intermod at 5:34 AM on October 17, 2014

"The Princess Bride" pretends to. (It's actually entirely original, but the conceit is that it's the "good parts" edition cut down from an earlier work.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:34 AM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This may be a bit more far afield, but you could consider looking into any works that used the "cut-up" technique -- for example, Borroughs/Gysin's The Third Mind. It involves cutting up and re-arranging / combining exists textual works into new works. It's a little out there, but, it does kinda fall into what you're talking about.
posted by tocts at 5:43 AM on October 17, 2014

Best answer: Most of the work of Kathy Acker comes to mind. Google Scholar (kathy acker use of existing texts). On her relationship to the cut-up method mentioned above. Plus, an interview and another. Here are a couple of her books: Blood and Guts in High School, Great Expectations, Empire of the Senseless, Don Quixote: a novel.
posted by safetyfork at 6:09 AM on October 17, 2014

Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The characters walk in on parts of Hamlet.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:27 AM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not literature, but there's a 2004 book published by Lark Crafts called Terrific T-Shirts: Hundreds of Ways to Create Your Own Great Designs, purportedly written by Chris Rankin, which is nothing but two other previously published books combined together into one, including all the words and all the photos and nothing else. I don't believe it is plagiarism, but instead the action of an underhanded publisher (the same one as for the earlier two books). Neither of the two earlier books is claimed to have been written by Chris Rankin. One is The Great T-Shirt Book: Make Your Own Spectacular, One-Of-A-Kind Designs, by Carol Taylor, published in 1992, and the other is The Ultimate T-Shirt Book: Creating Your Own Unique Designs, by Deborah Morgenthal, published in 1998. Pretty sleazy move by Lark Crafts, trying to get people to buy what looks like a new book when they had already published it with different titles and authors. There is no acknowledgement in the new book that any of the material had been previously published, and no mention of either of the previous authors.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 8:55 AM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

A bit OT, but in a sorta-kinda similar vein to Princess Bridge, the book "S" is a boxed book with a bunch of tipped-in "notes," "cards," and the book appears to be scrawled in by two people.

So the ostensible book is an old library book called "Ship of Theseus" by V.M. Straka, but what you're really reading is a modern e-book-proof concept called "S," written by Doug Dorst but somehow also credited to J.J. Abrams for marketing/royalties purposes.

Probably a detour from what you're looking for, but could be interesting...
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:11 AM on October 17, 2014

Best answer: Paul Griffith's Let Me Tell You occurs "within" Hamlet similarly to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and tells Ophelia's story using only the 481 words she was given in the original play. Overall the text is original, but there will be recognizable snippets.

; or The Whale, "edited" by Damion Searls, is a collection of the bits that were left out of a particular abridged edition of Moby Dick[; or, The Whale], but presented as if a book of its own.

Rick Whitaker's An Honest Ghost is composed of sentences from the author's library.

It's only a small section, but the first several pages of Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana steals lines referencing fog from all over the place.
posted by Su at 2:02 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If it helps, a term you might want to look at is cento. A cento is a poem that is entirely composed of verses from another author/other authors.
posted by lysimache at 7:59 PM on October 17, 2014

Best answer: Jane Slayre
posted by bleep at 3:09 PM on October 18, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everybody -- much appreciated.
posted by yankeefog at 3:49 AM on October 20, 2014

Best answer: My tablet ate my carefully composed comment with links, so just look up poet Kenneth Goldsmith, advocate of Uncreative Writing.
posted by moonmilk at 5:17 AM on October 20, 2014

The Grammar Architect by Chris Eaton is a "cover version" of Thomas Hardy's A Pair of Blue Eyes. Eaton describes his process as follows:
I cut up little plot points, reading the original book and dropping little sentences into the hat. I didn’t use character names, just things like ‘Daughter falls in love with architect. Father upset.’ And then I tried as often as possible to quote passages from the original, and even lots of passages from other genre fiction.
posted by twirlip at 12:54 PM on October 22, 2014

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