In Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart, the plaque on the door to Mo’s bookbinding workshop bears the legend:
Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.
Now just about anyone who has completed a Brit Lit I course (or had to teach one), will recognize this as a paraphrase from Francis Bacon (philosopher, not painter). The whole thing, from his essay On Studies goes like this:
It’s great that Funke, in a book-obsessed book, would include this allusion to Bacon, but is a footnote too much to ask? If you plug the first bit of the quote into Google, you get quite a few references to Funke’s novel, but you have to dig a bit to find it attributed to Bacon. Foucault and Barthes would take this as a fine, post-structuralist proof of the death of the author. Which I accept up to a point.
Maybe it’s pedantic quibbling, but it makes me a little anxious that readers are erroneously attributing something from an important philosopher to a contemporary YA writer. I strongly favor literary allusion – I wouldn’t be able to stomach two of my favorite YA authors, Phillip Pullman and Cassandra Clare, if I were opposed to allusion, and I recognize that text gets loose in the world, but in this instance I think we’re witnessing a certain laziness and lack of sophistication on the part of readers, and also poor attribution on the part of the author and editor.
Or perhaps all the hoo-ha over this week’s release of New Moon has made me grumpy.