Continuing once again with yesterday's theme...
I think what strikes me, when I look at the claims of plagiarists for various choice portions of Mathew Franklin Whittier's legacy, is the issue of context. Once you get to know Mathew's life as deeply as I have, you can clearly see the back-story for these various works. The claimaints, on the other hand, have no back-story for them; or if one is provided, as in the case of the famous claimants, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe, it is ludicrous. Dickens supposedly wrote, inside of six weeks, a master work which put him on the map, a feat which he was never able to duplicate. He presented a story which contained clear evidence of real metaphysics, as embedded there by the original authors, and called it a "Ghost Story of Christmas."
I won't go into Mathew and Abby's back-story for this work. It is detailed at length in my book, and deserves to be considered in its entirety.
Edgar Allan Poe claimed to have written a poem, which so far as I can see, was unlike anything he had ever written before, using a pseudonym which he had never used before, nor ever used afterwards. He was not in grief, but it was a grief poem; and it had elements of wry, dark humor, so that if he had written it, not grieving, it would have to be some kind of parody of grief. And yet it clearly wasn't. It was written by someone in terrible grief, who had the deeply-ingrained habit of facing suffering with humor, which defense had still not abandoned him even in his darkest hour--i.e., MFW. Mathew used multiple pseudonyms which had a deep, secret meaning to him, personally. John Quarles had written about the plague in Europe; Mathew had lost his beloved wife to consumption. Mathew's back-story (and future story) for this poem goes very, very deep; Poe's is absurdly shallow. Poe, attempting to shore up his theft, wrote an explanation, which simply indicates that he wrote the poem as a kind of intellectual exercise.
But wouldn't Mathew have claimed these works for his own, once the famous authors claimed them? That's part of the back-story. Mathew, after his wife Abby died, became secretive. He avoided the spotlight, and with it, fame. He used more prominent people, at times, to get his message across to a wider audience. He was almost self-destructive in his avoidance of public recognition. He had also remarried (an arranged marriage) by the time he would have published "The Raven," and although he was not in love with his second wife, he would not have wished to her hurt by revealing how deeply he was still in grief for his first wife. It would have been typical of him to let the matter be, and to keep the secret to himself.* All of this hinges on whether the editor who first published "The Raven," when it was submitted under "------ Quarles," was given the identity of the submitter. Had Mathew submitted it, very likely he would not have identified himself--which was an open invitation for Poe to step in and claim it. None of his contemporaries would have questioned him--only Mathew could have challenged him in the matter, and he wouldn't have. As regards Dickens, Mathew appears to have actually given him the manuscript. He would have been ambivalent about Dickens' use of it--more and more so, as time wore on. Other people tried to stand up to Dickens' plagiarism, and were unsuccessful--Dickens viciously ruined the reputation of one writer who attempted to defend another author that Dickens had stolen from. And, by the way, my research indicates that Dickens was not a nice guy, and he scoffed at Spiritualism--should we imagine that such a person wrote the "Carol"? This would be like a punk rocker writing Handel's "Messiah."
What occurs to me, is that the vast majority of people--and it is the "vast majority of people," plus a few academicians, who decide these things--don't think organically, or, one might say, "ecologically." They don't look for deep context, for the gestalt, the whole fabric of the thing. They go by reputation and public opinion. If public opinion is that there is one life, after which a God of all love sends one summarily either to eternal heaven or, if one has broken the silliest of rules, to eternal hell, then, everybody accepts that. No matter how inherently ridiculous this premise is, they decide this is reality. But the same goes for the underlying assumptions of materialistic science, today; and the same thing goes for these attributions for famous works.
Need I say more? I really don't want to convince one conniving academician that I'm right about this--someone who, perchance, will attempt to steal my findings and publish them as his or her own. "Been there, done that." I want to break the bubble of marginalization, if at all possible--the knee-jerk assumption that I am merely a nutcase for claiming these things. As though I hadn't spent years of intensive research building a case--a case which no-one will bother reading--to prove it.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*One has to set aside everything one has been taught about Poe as a famous man, and put oneself in Mathew Franklin Whittier's shoes in 1845. Mathew was 33 years old. He had been writing brilliant prose since at least 1834, which I can document. He had been writing poetry in a similar style, and arguably of this quality, since at least 1843. His brother was a brilliant poet, in a different style, and Mathew, being five years younger, had no-doubt been tutored by him at least to some degree, while they were both young. In any case, they had had the same home schooling. Mathew had written works at least as good as Poe's, even in the horror Gothic short story genre, by 1845. Poe, in short, was no great shakes to Mathew. They began their literary careers at roughly the same time, in the early 1830's. Mathew could generate fresh, creative ideas at an amazing rate. If someone stole a piece from him, it was just one of dozens and dozens--Mathew knew he would simply create more of them. Not having identified himself to the editor when he submitted "The Raven" as "----- Quarles," he knew it would be useless to try to challenge Poe's claim to it, with the high-powered literati who were also Poe's friends and colleagues. It would have simply been best to let it go.
Music opening this page: "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who, from the album, "Who's Next"