Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Accidental plagiarism? The Next Chapter ...

Today, the New York Times is reporting that Kaavya, everyone's favorite Ivy League plagiarist, may have cribbed off yet another book, this time from Sophie Kinsella's "Can You Keep A Secret?"

I read the story. I read the examples. One pairing is too close for comfort, but the others are a bit of a stretch. One example is rather gray, and the other one, well, who hasn't written something along the lines of someone's eyes being so dark they were almost black?

As I wrote to L.A. Dave this morning, this feels a little witch-hunt-y to me.

I'm not defending Kaavya. Plagiarism is the cardinal sin.

And I can't imagine what it must be like to be so young and to be so publicly shamed. And her parents. What must they be going through?

So if there are other offenses in her book, they should come to light, but they should be clear offenses. The Times piece cited three examples: One was rather blunt, one was rather murky, and one was rather generic.

With the bazillions of words that are written and published every year, sometimes a couple words are going to appear in the same order in two different places. That doesn't mean they were stolen from another writer. They're just common words or phrases or cliches. You can't plagiarize a cliche.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

She wasn't too young to "endure" a big book contract or the ensuing fame. She's also old enough to know right from wrong and old enough to know exactly what she was doing. Plagiarism is a "crime" wrought upon writers by themselves, therefore "shame" is the plagiarist's own doing. And frankly, I'm appalled by how easy it has become for writers to borrow, and casually toss it off.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous enema fiend said...

I saw Kaavya's picture and I'm tossing one off right now.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sophisticated response.

The latest from AP

Harvard author faces further allegations of borrowing

NEW YORK (AP) - A Harvard University student's novel has been
permanently withdrawn and her two-book deal canceled by publisher
Little, Brown and Company.
It comes amid more allegations that passages in Kaavya
Viswanathan's "How Opal Mehta Got
Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life" are similar to other books.
In a statement, Little, Brown and Company says it won't
published a revised edition of "Opal Mehta" and won't publish a
second book under contract with Viswanathan.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous enema fiend said...

Anonymous said...

Very sophisticated response.


Tossing one off isn't meant to be sophisticated. It's meant to be a release. That's why it ends happy :)

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, thanks for explaining that to me.

8:05 PM  

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