This represents a development from the found materials that MM had quoted and shaped in A and the quotations that he has deployed throughout the HERMES and intermittently throughout the APHRODITE sequences. The book has two subjects: medieval Japan and ancient Rome. In advance Morrison determined that instead of revisiting Rome and Japan he would compose the book out of quotations from other books. These he has artfully selected, revised and regularized, so that each quotation is the same length. There can be no question of plagiarism, for no commercial benefit is sought by using other writers’ words, all which may, if required, be located in the “Books Quoted” of the final page. (Only had Andy Warhol marketed his own soup in Campbell Soup cans would there have been an issue of copyright.) MM’s work belongs instead to the traditions of exact imitation, East and West, in this epic context, of Girolamo Vida, who “overwrote” Vergil’s Aeneid by using his very words to another effect. Context is everything. What do Lady Murasaki’s Japan and Cleopatra’s Rome have in common? More than one might have supposed, but in Morrison’s method we learn by contextualization rather than by comparing texts, even though MM had originally planned a book based upon Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Lady Murasaki’s Diary, both of which he still quotes, in translation.
The full text of This
The opening paragraphs of This in Japanese