“Creativity is great, but plagiarism is faster.” - Unknown
Having survived the 1960s, I’ve always considered myself open-minded and progressive. However when I read articles like, “Author, 17, Says It’s ‘Mixing,’ Not Plagiarism,” (NYTimes.com), my “crabby-little-ol’ lady” persona can’t stay hidden. I find myself mumbling about the younger generation’s lack of values and wonder what the world is coming to.
Helene Hegemann, a young German woman of seventeen, has attained the major accomplishment of having written a best selling novel. The book, Axolotl Roadkill, is about Berlin’s drug and club scene as seen through the eyes of a sixteen-year-old after the death of her mother.
I have no problem with that. In fact, I’m in awe of someone achieving so much at such a young age. My problem is that, according to the article,
“…a blogger last week uncovered material in the novel taken from the less-well-known novel “Strobo,” by an author writing under the nom de plume Airen. In one case, an entire page was lifted with few changes.”
Other unattributed sources have also been discovered in the book.
Here’s the author’s response to the accusations (quoted from the article):
“Although Ms. Hegemann has apologized for not being more open about her sources, she has also defended herself as the representative of a different generation, one that freely mixes and matches from the whirring flood of information across new and old media, to create something new. ‘There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity,’ said Ms. Hegemann in a statement released by her publisher after the scandal broke.”
That doesn’t sound like a very sincere apology to me. Isn’t it ridiculous to feel you have the right to claim someone’s work as your own simply because it is out in “the whirring flood of information” and is free for the taking?
The article went on to explain that even though the panel knew about the plagiarism charges, the book was named as one of the finalists for the $20,000 prize of the Leipzig Book Fair in the fiction category.
“‘Obviously, it isn’t completely clean but, for me, it doesn’t change my appraisal of the text,” said Volker Weidermann, the jury member and a book critic for the Sunday edition of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, a strong supporter. ‘I believe it’s part of the concept of the book.’”
It’s bad enough that someone plagiarizes a fellow writer, but to have a respected award committee give their approval of it adds insult to injury to all the authors out there who manage to be creative and authentic without stealing pages from another author’s book.
If this story disturbs you and much as it did me, you may want to read the entire article. You can find it here.
So tell me, am I missing something? Am I just being a crab or is there something very wrong with the attitude of this author and the judge?
Thanks for stopping by.
Tags: plagiarism, Hegemann, Axolotl Roadkill, Leipzig Book Fair,