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Not many writers are plagiarists. All the same, most will have experienced the sudden anxiety, on formulating a sentence, that it has been written before. What if a phrase you encountered long ago has been lying dormant in your brain, only to reappear in the guise of original thought? Carl Jung observed this phenomenon in Man and His Symbols—and suggested that such “revelations” were a sign of genius. Modern-day law courts, however, tend to be less charitable: the “I didn’t realise I was doing it” defence doesn’t hold much water in intellectual property cases, which is fair enough, since the…

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