Bold Creative Copying

Pattie Crider

WRT 305

Response 13

October 9, 2013


Bold Creative Copying

                According to Erasmus, copia is the process of copying existing texts to a new format and adding a splash of color. By that I mean, Erasmus could take a single sentence and write it a hundred different ways, saying the same thing but rearranging words or phrases, adding synonyms, metaphors and applying other advanced composition. Erasmus copied text and added flavor, making the text more appealing. He taught this method noting the importance of avoiding words that are vulgar (in sound) or clichéd, or even unusual, to that of common people. Erasmus believed one should never use the same word twice when there are many words that mean the same thing and can be used, rather than repeat. He wanted his copia to be a bold invention of language, like that of a poet. He believed this style of writing would create a resurgence in Latin text. It didn’t.

This type of copying is still useful today. Erasmus wrote carefully in Latin making sure each word was perfectly chosen. In professional writing we are constantly instructed to write and re-write, creating draft after draft, searching for the perfect words to make the perfect sentence. While we only read a small section of Erasmus work, I understand why he stresses the point of choosing the correct words. The work must flow–almost sing to the reader–to keep them engaged. Erasmus recognized the importance of this bold, colorful, well thought-out, writing style and applied it to existing text, ramping them up in language.

For example, I think this type of copying would be useful in re-writing Christine de Pizan’s, The Treasure of the City of Ladies. This text could be copied to a modern princess story, updating the language and adding advanced composition. The section on the nature of women could certainly use a re-write to make it applicable to the modern women of today. Regardless of the text, copia is still used to take “old stories” and make them “new” to readers.

Go ahead...take a swing. I'll duck and listen.

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