The greatest form of flattery. A literary ‘must.’


In Finland 1966

A huge book of almost 800 pages is named; letters to Vera by Vladimir Nabokov edited by Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd. The amount of work that the editors/authors went through is mind boggling. It starts off with a list of Abbreviations and ends with a huge Index. It has a Bibliography and Acknowledgements.

My interest is more what is stated on the first page giving the summary; “without limiting the rights under copyright, and goes on about written permissions and copyright ownership.”

A lot of stuff is now stolen by copying and downloading on the internet without the original makers or creators being acknowledged or paid. However, in my case, please feel free. I would be so happy to get copied.  I claim no rights to any words or sentences. Nabokov died at seventy seven years of age after having written many masterpieces both in Russian and English.

I will be of the same age next year and hopefully will have self-published my first book of  ‘Almost There,-‘memoirs, with dubious and unreliable philosophical musings.’ I am again going through the thousands of words and am now googling formatting. What about a Foreword. Should it have an index of chapters or headings. What about spacing, size of pages or lettering? Should I dedicate it! Do I acknowledge anyone. Be aware of possible libellous statements? It just never ends.

I can perhaps lay claim and copyright to my Leeks and Potato bake. The inclusion of sour cream instead of just plain milk makes it uniquely my recipe. I know that it is mine and Helvi’s favourite, with pancakes and Golden syrup coming in at a close second.  Of course with pancakes comes the use of butter-milk which I know other cooks use as well.

Did you know that in Australia during the fifties and sixties, wives were sometimes introduced as ‘the cook,’ or worse ‘my cook.’ It happened to Helvi once on the farm when someone asked me; where is the cook, meaning Helvi. H did not like it and told the man so, who had referred to her as  ‘the cook.’ He stopped doing it to us, but I bet you he continued it with others. Anyway, feel free to copy the words or recipes.

What is it again that Imitation is the best form of flattery?

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9 Responses to “The greatest form of flattery. A literary ‘must.’”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Gerard, you are being very generous to tell folks to go ahead and copy. You worked mighty hard to put all those words to computer/paper. However, as you say, imitation is the greatest form of flattery BUT, your name will not be on those words if somebody steals from you. I wish you the very best in getting your book published.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Ivonne. You do have a good point there. But, am I so without vanity, that if someone steals my words it would not please me? Can I look at myself in the mirror and not be chuffed that someone fancied my words that much, that, under the cover of a dark moon-less night, stole some of my words?
      It is a shameless act, I know. I too have sometimes used Google or Wiki and stole images that I used in my pieces. Some of those images must have been protected because a year or so later, they went missing, and presumably taken back by the owner. I am amazed at the technology.
      Thank you for your kind thoughts, and I will probably use some form of protection on the first page of the book.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yvonne Says:

    I really admire you for the effort you’re taking with this. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Well, Yvonne. You moved houses and States and now back in your beloved Venice. Bravo to you too. My book is going through an edit. Step by step it will be done. Helvi reckons that I should prepare myself that they (the books) will make good Christmas presents as well.
      She smiles at me and makes a valid point.
      Did you know that many publishers are going broke and those that survive, generally work with authors that are known. Many now will not accept any manuscripts, no matter if they are a budding Tolstoy or Grahame Green.
      It is the age of self-publishing or perish.


  3. shoreacres Says:

    I’ve spent considerable time doing DMCA take-down notices for people who lift my blog posts whole to make money off them (it’s called “scraping”) and given the effort I put into my work, there’s no way I would just offer it up, saying, “Here ya go.” I’m happy to have people read my work, but I’m not so fond of them appropriating it and passing it off as their own. My experiences, my life, my words. But, to each his own, as they say. The important thing’s to get the book done, and get it into the hands of people (like me!) who are eager to read it.

    I did bring you a little treat. “The Chicago Manual of Style” is beginning a series of little quizes on punctuation, grammar, etc. The first is the serial comma. I took the quiz, and it was quite fun.

    Even better, there’s a link in the middle of the piece where you can sign up for a free month of online access to the Manual. I’m a little overwhelmed with projects just now, but when I can see some space, I’m going to sign up and spend a month getting a grasp of how they do things. Free’s good, after all, even if it’s free style lessons.

    I laughed at “the cook.” Over here, I grew up hearing “the wife.” Why is it no one ever refers to “the husband”? Ah, well. I was tickled to see you mention Golden Syrup, too. I presume you mean Lyles. When I lived in Liberia, that was what we could get at the Lebanese stores. I developed quite a taste for it, actually.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oh dear,Linda. I looked up DMCA and I understand this applies to the US and probably here as well. I was perhaps being flippant and seeking reactions, for which I am now suffering.
      I did the Chicago Manual of Style test, and got 67%. I am very pleased by that, especially when I never heard of The Chigago Manual of Style. Questions relating to the Chicago Style, I just wildly guessed.
      The original Golden Syrup came in a tin and was much darker than the modern version. I loved it as a child taking a spoonful and drawing circles with it on my milky boiled oats, without lumps.
      Already then I showed talent!


  4. Intricate Knot Says:

    I’ve recently started adding my name and website to my photos and drawings. For me, it is more of a signature and a way for others to potentially find me if they are interested in my work. It is not meant to discourage stealing, because honestly, if people really want to steal your work, whether it be writing, recipes, photographs, or art, it is not difficult to do. I don’t think most people really want to steal, though. I think most just want to share something they find clever, beautiful, instructional, or interesting.

    Personally, I love your attitude about it, but at the same time, it doesn’t hurt to add your copyright signature (or whatever you’d like to call it), because that way people can find you.


  5. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    An ex-son-in-law once referred to me as “The baby sitter”. I didn’t like it either.


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