Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the water ...
Kaavya Vishvanathan was back in the news this week when it was revealed that her plagiarism extended (can you believe?) to other texts as well.
In the age of the Internet, literary exegesis (whether driven by scandal or not) is no longer undertaken solely by pale critics or plodding lawyers speaking only to each other, but by a global hive, humming everywhere at once, and linked to the wiki. And if you are big enough to matter (as any writer would hope to be), one misstep, one mistake, can incite a horde of analysts, each with a global publishing medium in the living room and, it sometimes seems, limitless amounts of time.Hey, friends, we're part of that! (Limitless amounts of time, though? I wish I could kick the addiction.)
Principle whistle blower was the Sepia Mutiny blog (which I intitially discovered thanks to Sharanya: the first post on the scandal is here .)
Kaavya seems also to have lifted from Sopia Kinsella's Can you Keep A Secret, from Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries, and from Tanuja Desai Hidier’s Born Confused and from Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories.
But all may not be lost for Kaavya, as some wag notes on the blog - since many Indians don't believe in intellectual property, Viswanathan could have a tremendous career writing for Bollywood!
An interesting case of cryptonesia came to light in the wake of KaavyaGate when it was revealed that Helen Keller created her own publishing scandal when she published a story called The Frost King. As Keller tells it in her autobigraphy:
So it does happen.
Mr. Anagnos was delighted with 'The Frost King,' and published it in one of the Perkins Institution reports. This was the pinnacle of my happiness, from which I was in a little while dashed to earth. I had been in Boston only a short time when it was discovered that a story similar to 'The Frost King,' called 'The Frost Fairies' by Miss Margaret T. Canby, had appeared before I was born in a book called 'Birdie and His Friends.' The two stories were so much alike in thought and language that it was evident Miss Canby's story had been read to me, and that mine was — a plagiarism."
(Thanks McLee for dropping this story into the comments of my previous post on the case.)