Archive for February, 2010

An article on The New York Times web site today details the recent uproar over Helene Hegemann’s new best-selling book “Axolotl Roadkill” and whether shouts of plagiarism are warranted or simply overreaction. The book, whose author is a mere 17 years of age, is receiving equal parts vehement support and detraction. As Nicholas Kulish details in the Times article, the book has been nominated as a finalist of the Leipzig Book Fair–no small accomplishment.

However, many others feel that there were simply too many passages lifted, nearly verbatim, from other sources to be considered a legitimately original work. Many of the borrowed passages come from a work called “Strobo” by Airen and from his blog.

PressEurope, makes an interesting observation about what it dubs the “virtual poets society,” in which there is no longer any distinction between fact and fiction. Hegemann maintains that there is in fact, “no such thing as originality anyway, there’s only authenticity.”

Merriam-Webster online defines authenticity as “conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features” and “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” My question is, can one really be true to one’s own character when he or she is slipping into the work of another person like a costume?


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