"Pablo Picasso is widely quoted as having said that “good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Whether or not Picasso was truly the first person to voice this idea is in some dispute. One can find passages in T. S. Eliot’s critical works which discuss how artistic theft of others’ work contributes to the creation of new art. The idea itself is probably much older. Shakespeare routinely stole plotlines and even whole scenes from other writers for his own plays." (via) Even Steve Jobs believed this ideology allowed for the best of what humanity had to offer to emerge.
Recently, while reading The Princess Bride with my kids, I read the following scene and chuckled. Because I know of another artist who stole it.
The scene reads:
She was outside his hovel before dawn. Inside, she could hear him already awake. She knocked. He appeared, stood in the doorway. Behind him she could see a tiny candle, open books. He waited. She looked at him. Then she looked away.
He was too beautiful.
"I love you," Buttercup said. "I know this must come as something of a surprise, since all I've ever done is scorn you and degrade you and taunt you, but I have loved you for several hours now, and every second, more. I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than any woman has ever loved a man, but a half hour after that I knew that what I felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. But ten minutes after that, I understood that my previous love was a puddle compared to the high seas before a storm. Your eyes are like that, did you know? Well they are. How many minutes ago was I? Twenty? Had I brought my feelings up to then? It doesn't matter." Buttercup still could not look at him. The sun was rising behind her now; she could feel the heat on her back, and it gave her courage. "I love you so much more now than twenty minutes ago that there cannot be comparison. I love ou so much more now than when you opened your hovel door, there cannot be comparison. There is no room in my body for anything but you. My arms love you, my ears adore you, knees shake with blind affection. My mind begs you to ask it something so it can obey. Do you want me to follow you for the rest of your days? I will do that. Do you want me to crawl? I will crawl. I will be quiet for you or sing for you, or if you are hungry, let me bring you food, or if you have thirst and nothing to quench it but Arabian wine, I will go to Araby, even though it is across the world, and bring a bottle back for your lunch. Anything there is that I can do for you, I will do for you; anything there is that I cannot do, i will learn to do. I know I cannot complete with the Countess in skills or wisdom or appeal, and I saw the way she looked at you. And I saw the way you looked at her. But remember, please that she is old and has other interests, while I am seventeen and for me there is only you. Dearest Wesley - I've never called you that before, have I? - Westley, Westley,, Westley, Westley, Westley, - darling Westley, adored Westley, sweet perfect Westley, whisper that I have a chance to win your love."
And with that, she dared the bravest thing she'd ever done; she looked right into his eyes.
He closed the door in her face.
Without a word.
Without a word.
Buttercup ran. She whirled and burst away and the tears came bitterly; she could not see, she stumbled, she slammed into a tree trunk, fell, arose, ran on; her shoulder throbbed from where the tree trunk hit her, and the pain was strong, but not enough to ease her shattered heart. Back to her room she fled, back to her pillow. Safe behind the locked door, she drenched the world with tears. (pg 49-51).
Here is M. Night Shyamalan's "stolen" version: