The writer as magician

On what makes a poem or other piece of writing interesting:

But what is. important, and not always understood in these days, is that a reminiscent passage of this kind is intended to recall to the reader all the associated passages, and so put him in touch with the sources of power behind and beyond the writer. The demand for “originality”-with the implication that the reminiscence of other writers is a sin against originality and a defect in the work-is a recent one and would have seemed quite ludicrous to poets of the Augustan Age, or of Shakespeare’s time. The traditional view is that each new work should be a fresh focus of power through which former streams of beauty, emotion, and reflection are directed. This view is adopted, and perhaps carried to excess, by writers like T. S. Eliot, some of whose poems are a close web of quotations and adaptations, chosen for their associative value, or like James Joyce, who makes great use of the associative value of sounds and syllables. The criterion is, not whether the associations are called up, but whether the spirits invoked by this kind of verbal incantation are charged with personal power by the magician who speeds them about their new business.

-Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker, Ch.8