Friday, February 12, 2010
in the new york times today there was an article about a young german author whose first novel has been a huge success. helene hegemann's book "axolotl roadkill" is a best seller and is getting great reviews.
the 17 year old author has written a play(which has been staged) as well as a movie which probably helped her book sales out a little bit.
unfortunately, last week a blogger discovered that material in her novel was taken from another novel called "strobo" by airen and in some cases entire pages were lifted with just a few changes.
soon, other unauthorized sources were noted in the book and the young author had some trouble on her hands.
in her defense, ms. hegemann wrote that she is "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."
she also stated that "there’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity."
i'm all for young authors being experimental, but this is just entitled. so there's no such thing as originality so it's alright for you to steal other people's original work and take the credit for writing it?
when you "mix" something, borrow from something, you credit it. because if you don't, it's called plagiarism. especially in print. to credit someone is part of a culture of respect for other people's work and to neglect to do so is a symptom of selfishness and ignorance. it means that your "authenticity" was won at the cost of someone else's obscurity but that you're more concerned about people thinking you're an amazing writer than letting people in on the secret of WHY you're such a good writer.
basically it's like if you lifted something from david foster wallace and then you were all like "look how experimental my prose is, i'm sooo cutting edge." stealing it first doesn't make you cutting edge.
she is right, there is no such thing as originality and we all borrow from somewhere. noone can claim that their work isn't in part lifted from somebody else. but most people at least try to give credit where it's due and this story just reeks of a 17 year old brat who didn't think for a moment that anyone would second guess her genius.