April 26, 2006

KV & Sloppy Firsts

Was plagiarism her idea of art?
Or did she 'internalize' the novels by part?
Such questions heavy,
When posed to Ms. KV,
She said sorry and promised a fresh start!

Independent Online Edition 26/04/06: Harvard author, 19yr old Kaavya Viswanathan, when charged with plagiarism admitted that she 'internalized' an earlier novel by a fellow New Jersey author, Megan McCafferty. Get the story here

An Update:

Kaavya, the cat’s got her tongue.
Don't pillory her - she is very young.
True, she had bummed
Her story, maybe she succumbed
To the lure of taking a short cut up the rung!

NDTV 03/05/06: Kaavya's book deals are off. Get the story here


  1. Aparna--

    The tale of Kaavya is too distressing!
    it seems a photographic memory is not a blessing!
    when inspired-by-example
    grows verbatim, will lawyers trample
    on your half-million-dollar picnic? how depressing!

    Though this be tongue-in-cheek, it hints at my sentiments. The episode seems apt to end badly; one feels sorry for the success-centric girl from New Jersey, who evidently was crowned the "next new thing" before she had even written a book -- and thus was under considerable pressure to deliver one. In such circumstances, the temptation to follow closely an admired model, is perhaps understandable. She is under a two-book contract. One wonders if the 2nd will be based on rueful wisdom gleaned from the first experience? ;-)
    Time will tell.
    Such cautionary tales can make one thankful for literary obscurity (and all the blessings of penury). ;-)

  2. No.Cheating tobe successful and to make money is not uncerstandable.However, since this is rich people;s money thats been siphoned, I am okay with her.
    Go Kavya.

  3. Anonymous11:26 PM

    Whenever a composition is "inspired"
    Rest assured,someone's conspired
    To lift a song or a story
    Chupke, chupke, chori-chori
    And then deny such a thing transpired.

    Music Director Anu Malik used to lift A.R. Rahman's tunes totally and then say that his composition was "inspired". Atleast Kavya stooped to conquer at such a young age!

  4. Apo -- "understandable" does not mean the same thing as "okay" or "admirable" or "acceptable" or "something I would recommend." All things in the universe are, in principle, understandable -- if one's understanding can be widened, no?

    now I'm wondering what
    > Chupke, chupke, chori-chori
    may mean ;-)
    As a general rule, one cannot make a general rule ;-) about "inspired," I'd hazard. (There is such a range of different meanings for different artists at different times.)

  5. I'd say that there's more to this story
    Of KV's reuse of priori.
    Forty passages found
    Makes 'internalized' sound
    More like 'ripped off for personal glory.'

  6. Anonymous4:00 PM

    Hi David,

    "Chupke, chupke, chori-chori" is a
    Hindi (a widely spoken North Indian language) expression which loosely translated means -
    on the sly.

    According to me a verbatim straight lift of another's work cannot be passed of as "inspired"

  7. Ah but it can be passed off as that. Whether it can be accepted, may be another question. This plagiarism issue has lately arisen in another case--
    Raytheon Chief's Management Rules Have a Familiar Ring incidentally.

    If you read my little idle verse with attention, I think it should become plain that I am not proposing the meaning you seemingly infer. Neither is Aparna. Subtlety of expression requires a love for shade & nuance, if I'm not mistaken. In the realm of nuance, the basic judgments need not be lingered over too long; they're obvious. What is more interesting are the ironies and implications. A trickster caught in a trick is among the many characters & situations inviting sympathy in the circus of the world, meseems. (Who has not been there or done that, in some way or degree, if not in action at least in thought?) "This too am I" said some poet -- but I forget whom.


  8. ps -- by the way, Rachel Pine today has posted notes toward an interesting new hypothesis about the Kaavya case --
    Is Kaavya Viswanathan An Innocent Bystander?
    That somebody seems to have copied, is evident. Rachel raises the question of whether it was in fact Kaavya. ;-)
    Curiouser and curiouser, to quote a phrase.

  9. Say "I stole it. It's time to come clean,"
    or "My book's from a chic-lit machine"?
    No, instead, hide behind
    The mystery of mind:
    "Take pity, I'm only nineteen."

    To admit that she deliberately plagiarized would be an extremely bad career move.
    To admit that she didn't write the passages, and that she wasn't so much an author as a young attractive iconic front for a profitable prose machine, would be better for her, but would be bad for the book packaging company (who would then have to admit that their company provides stolen material).
    Her best available path is to blame an untouchable source--the mysterious workings of her mind. People can say that they find it completely incredible, but who can prove it? So, there are identical wordings? An amazing memory could be expected for a talented writer (forgetting of course that she can't remember what belonged to someone else). Maintaining a shred of plausibility is all she needs to do to be able to profit from the extensive exposure.

  10. I can see a lot of food for thought here, both among the interesting verses and ensuing discussion.

    In this day and age it is interesting to see how the book companies pay some newbie authors even before they put pen to paper. I can imagine the pressure on these people then to quickly deliver something that will sell. Where is the time for original thought? It's packaging, marketing and PR that takes the upperhand!