|Kingsley Amis by Anglo-Polish impressionist painter Feliks Topolski|
"Being pray to the anxiety of influence - and if any writer tells you that she or he doesn’t suffer from the anxiety of influence then they’re a stone-cold liar."
He explained how W.H. Auden notoriously used to write "GETS" in the margins of books for "Good Enough To Steal":
"W.H. Auden notoriously used to write in the marginalia "GETS", in the margins of books for "Good Enough To Steal". So I most re-read James Joyce’s Dubliners to steal stuff."
Will Self also explained that he likes to think he's a good enough writer to thieve. He said in the Guardian:
"I like to think I’m a good enough writer to thieve - and do so blatantly. I ripped off Robin Cook’s (aka Derek Raymond’s) title How the Dead Live quite shamelessly, and gave it to one of my own novels. He was dead, so he couldn’t do anything about it. Some Raymond acolyte thought this was a bit much and wrote me an irate letter. Big deal. Besides, I don’t think Cook would’ve given a toss - he was enough of a Wildean to know flattery when it was staring him in the face."
Kingsley Amis said:
"A novelist is a sort of mimic by definition.”
Philip Larkin said that imitation in a young writer is just a way of learning the job. He explained in an interview with the Paris Review:
"I had read a great many novels, and knew the mannerisms of most modern writers, but looking back I can’t say I ever imitated anyone. Now don’t think I mind imitation, in a young writer. It’s just a way of learning the job. Really, my novels were more original than my poems, at the time. My favorite novelists were Lawrence, Isherwood, Maugham, Waugh—oh, and George Moore. I was on a great Moore kick at that time: probably he was at the bottom of my style, then."
Paul Muldoon said to the Paris Review:
"The earlier poems were written very much in the style of T. S. Eliot. I managed to get myself out of that somehow, miraculously. Partly there was no future in it. I don’t mean in terms of eternity, just that no one is going to do anything of interest if he or she is writing sub-Eliot."
Samuel Beckett lifted much of Joyce in his earlier attempt at publication. As explained here:
"In reviving Belacqua and placing him in the demented netherworld of Echo’s Bones, Beckett produced a neo-Joycean pastiche that is very likely the silliest and most turgid piece he ever wrote. Prentice turned it down flat. “It is a nightmare,” he said...
The story was consigned to oblivion for eighty-one years, until Grove Press, Beckett’s New York publisher (and mine, for The Great Pint-Pulling Olympiad, 2003), issued the novella in a standalone volume curated by the assiduous Mark Nixon. I read it with some effort, and regretfully I must take Prentice’s side, even against one of my favorite authors. After all, Beckett was still very young, uncertain of his mission, searching for his voice. The voice that comes through in Echo’s Bones is more Joyce than Beckett, but without Joyce’s wit. Its quips and caprices are arbitrary, a grab bag of stylistic tricks without conviction:
"To the hair on your chest, forgive my brusqueness, my first name is Haemo don’t you see. Haemo, so beastly plethoric, all this beef you see, these steaks and collops you may have noticed, my blasted blood boils and it’s all up, I pledge you my word as apparently the last of the line I grovel before you, believe me or not sometimes I look on myself as utterly odious, I imprecate the hour I was got."
If this sounds familiar, that is because it is so heavily influenced by Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness prose, as pretty much any excerpt from Ulysses will illustrate:
"I suppose they’re just getting up in China now combing out their pigtails for the day well soon have the nuns ringing the angelus they’ve nobody coming in to spoil their sleep except an odd priest or two for his night office or the alarmlock next door at cockshout clattering the brain out of itself let me see if I can doze off 1 2 3 4 5 what kind of flowers are those they invented like the stars the wallpaper in Lombard street was much nicer the apron he gave me was like that something only I only wore it twice better lower this lamp and try again."
Joyce had made the modernist idiom, the literary idiom, the Irish idiom. And Beckett was as susceptible as anyone—indeed, more than most, as an associate of the great man."
Skateboarder Eric Koston said:
"All my shoes I designed, I copied Nike’s."