Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Why Parallels Are Cited

Canright borrowed with a vengeance; he never even troubled to adapt the wording or to paraphrase it to fit it into the structure of his own thought, as Mrs. White and other truly creative writers did. But we doubt not that he felt entirely clear in conscience in doing what he did. Now, nowhere in Mrs. White’s writings are there such extended verbatim borrowings as those of Canright from Hull. Yet Canright was the man who soberly and solemnly initiated against Mrs. White the charge of plagiarism! EGWC 408.2

In thus giving a recital of some of the literary practices of the past, particularly in the field of religious writing, we are not necessarily saying that such practices were ideal—we are sure they were not. For some generations there has been a steadily growing conviction that an author should give to his readers clear evidence of his literary borrowings. In fact, the trend has gone almost to the extreme today, so that many writers feel that they should not only use quotation marks, but also give the name of the author, if they borrow so much as a part of a sentence. EGWC 409.1

Both the moral and the legal angles of literary borrowing have provoked endless dispute and revealed every shade of opinion. Authors who have devoted books to the subject confess to difficulty in framing a wholly satisfactory definition of plagiarism. Courts have likewise found themselves in difficulty. It is not an uncommon thing for higher courts to reverse lower courts in suits for infringement, infringement being the legal aspect of plagiarism. EGWC 409.2

A modern writer on this subject said, with regard to the writing of his own book: EGWC 409.3

“I am fully aware of the difficulty of deciding what is plagiarism and what is legitimate borrowing. This very chapter is plagiarism of a sort. If I had indicated the source of every statement made, the notes would have been so numerous as to interfere with the continuity of the letterpress: I have, therefore, confined myself to occasional references, and have indicated the quotations I have made; but I must bear the blame of having sometimes used the investigations of others with only a general acknowledgment of indebtedness.”—H. M. PAULL., Literary Ethics, pp. 126, 127. EGWC 409.4