Friday, March 30, 2007

Book Abuser and Plagarist

Remember this story I pointed you to from the NYTBR about a guy who likes to treat his books poorly? Well, it turns out the guy allegedly "borrowed" some of the material from a book written a decade ago.

Editor and Publisher: 'NY Times' Regrets Publishing Book Essay

But the most "striking resemblance" occurs in the opening lines of each essay, the editors' note revealed. Here is how it describes the problem.*

Schott's begins: "I have to admit I was flattered when, returning to my hotel room on the shores of Lake Como, a beautiful Italian chambermaid took my hand. . . . Escorting me to the edge of the crisply made bed, the chambermaid pointed to a book on my bedside table. 'Does this belong to you?' she asked. I looked down to see a dog-eared copy of Evelyn Waugh's 'Vile Bodies' open spread-eagle, its cracked spine facing out. 'Yes,' I replied. 'Sir, that is no way to treat a book!' she declared, stalking out of the room."

Fadiman's essay begins: "When I was 11 and my brother was 13, our parents took us to Europe. At the Hôtel d'Angleterre in Copenhagen, as he had done virtually every night of his literate life, Kim left a book facedown on the bedside table. The next afternoon, he returned to find the book closed, a piece of paper inserted to mark the page, and the following note, signed by the chambermaid, resting on its cover: "Sir, you must never do that to a book."

And, yes, NYTBR regrets the error and "would not have published" the essay if they knew about the other book. Too bad the readers of the NYTBR are more well-read than its editors.

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