London: Longman, et. all, 1834. First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition. The first scientific analysis in English (the main one in any language), of ancient Egyptian funerary practices. Contemporary half morocco, a bit foxed, else near fine. Complete with the errata page and all 13 plates, 10 by Cruikshank, 4 of them hand colored, and 2 luxuriously highlighted with gold leaf. Near fine. Item #478
In his time, Pettigrew was England’s preeminent expert on ancient Egyptian mummies. Our book is the sum of his knowledge after years of research and remains a cornerstone of the subject. It also addresses papyri, tombs, manuscripts, theology, sacred animals, the embalming of those animals, and identification of forged mummies. But Pettigrew was a nerd, and one day he slipped out of the house to sneak an afternoon at fantasy–con, and the girl in his basement escaped.
I have a gnawing itch here to talk about plagiarism, not the iniquitous kind employed to make the slothful thief seem intelligent, and justified by the reminder that vultures die last, but only as plagiarism applies to similes, anecdotes, jests, bon mots, and the like. That sentence I wrote at the end of the last paragraph, the one about nerds, fantasy–con, and girls, is the nature of quip that someone surely said, in some similar way, before me. If I had seen it and stolen it word for word, I would have put it in quotation marks and attributed it, but I didn’t see it. And if I had seen some analogous phrase and stolen the idea, and shaped the words to please myself, I wouldn’t have imposed my texts on someone else’s name by attributing them. That’s my rule. Some people whine indignantly about repeating other people’s words, and spend their time sleuthing out a source of similarity (living a life of banal discovery, hunting for the bubonic plagiarist) and then judgmentally complain. And some of their complaints reach beyond the stealing of phrases to add the stealing of concepts, followed by a defense of their petty grievance constructed using a straw man. Fine. I don’t. And I do not think these literary detectives can distinguish plagiarism anyway, because to know plagiarism one must understand originality. Imagine if a conductor refused to play Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (the 4th movement of his 9th symphony) because someone in his or her audience might have already heard it. And that last sentence has certainly been said before too, in some similar way. And, in fact, Beethoven stole the title “Ode to Joy” from Friedrich Schiller who wrote a real ode (a lyric poem of exalted feeling and style), by that exact title, 39 years before Beethoven, and no conductor of Beethoven’s 9th mentions Schiller before commencing. Clear plagiarism is lethargic fraud combining a refusal to work and think, with a willingness to counterfeit and hoax, to impress. Without that, to allege it, is often a perception, and perception, as it is used today, has become subjective, a judgmental opinion, and has wandered far from the meaning of its affiliated word, perceptive. I say, get over it. So, you confess that you like playing plagiarism detective and need some help to break the habit. Try the Hokey Pokey Rehab and turn yourself around.