Imitation is the doctrine of "artistic creativity according to which the creative process should be based on the close imitation of the "masterpieces of the preceding "authors. This concept was first formulated by "Dionysius of Halicarnassus in the first century BCE as "imitatio, and has since dominated for almost two thousand years the Western "history of the arts and "classicism; in the 18th century, "Romanticism reversed it with the creation of the institution of romantic originality. In the 20th century, the "modernist and "postmodern movements in turn discarded the romantic idea of creativity, and heightened the practice of imitation, copying, plagiarism, rewriting, appropriation and so on as the central "artistic device.
The doctrine of imitation, to which Nodier indirectly refers, had of course dominated classicism from its inception, when Du Bellay recommended it in the Defense et illustration de la langue francaise. The rejection of that doctrine was a basic tenet of romanticism; as Hugo put it in his preface to the 1826 edition of Odes et ballades, 'celui qui imite un poete romantique devient necessairement classique, puisqu'il imite.'