It's a Fine Line Between Influence and Collaboration
A Case of James Joyce Reading Dante
This essay explores the idea that some authors engage with their predecessors in such a way that the expression of that influence in their subsequent work cannot be considered as mere ‘influence’ but rather as a sort of collaboration. In order to explain this distinction, it is important to understand the meaning and connotations of the term ‘influence’, and to acknowledge how it shapes the interaction between artists and their predecessors and how, in turn, it shapes our own reading of these relationships and interactions. In order to support this idea and give an example of this distinction, this essay presents the case of James Joyce’s collaborative interaction with Dante. It sketches how this relationship has been interpreted from early biographical works to more contemporary critical writing and supports that in a sense Dante is more of a collaborator than an influence on Joyce.
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