Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Plagiarism Carnival #2

Edgar Allan Poe plagiarism
...Although, by this point, perhaps it would be more appropriate to forget about carnivals, and start in on the "Masque of the Red Death" references.Edgar Allan Poe masque of the red deathI thought it was about time for yet another update on the "Raven's Bride"/"Very Young Mrs. Poe" plagiarism case, for the benefit of newcomers to this blog and anyone not following the latest news on Twitter. (Note to St. Martin's Press--despite your fondest hopes, this story is not going to go away anytime soon.)

Archie Valparaiso, the hardest-working man in show business, is the major contributer to this edition of the Carnival. First, he makes a further examination of Lenore Hart's "I just used the same historical sources" excuse and finds that it is, well, all wet.

Next, he looks at the "It's all just coincidence that the two novels share at least 57 similar passages!" argument, and does the math.

In this post, Mr. Valparaiso ponders, weak and weary, the mystery of SMP's inexplicable determination to stick to a long and embarrassing public cover-up all to protect a little-known, lightweight fiction writer whose novels are evidently about as popular as IRS audits. He takes a closer look at Ms. Hart's husband, a considerably more successful author, and unearths some interesting information. David Poyer may turn out to be the crucial figure in this whole scandal.

Salon magazine recently held an online symposium on "What is plagiarism," featuring, among others, Jeremy Duns and Dennis Johnson of Melville House. "The Raven's Bride" is among the cases discussed.

IThenticate, a plagiarism detection software company, included Ms. Hart's little masterpiece among their "Best of 2011 Plagiarism Events." The blog includes this highly suggestive comment: "I sense a deja vu here, and feel this will be an ongoing story in 2012, as St. Martin's Press takes a look at her other work and determines whether their stance remains the same."

Probably the most notable development to date is that New York's Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony, a nonprofit educational institution where Lenore Hart teaches creative writing (!), has suspended its connection with her pending what it hopes will be an "early resolution" of the "issues" that have arisen concerning her work. One wonders what "resolution" they expect to see.

I honestly have no idea if the Mailer Center is sincere in this expressed desire to keep their distance from a writer with "issues"--if this is the case, my guess is that Ms. Hart may as well permanently kiss the place goodbye right now--or if the statement is merely a public face-saving cover story, designed to get people off its back until the whole issue eventually dies. We shall see.

Well, that's it for now, folks. It's amazing to realize that it's been nearly a year since that fateful day when I settled down to read my just-arrived-in-the-mail copy of a new Poe novel. During that time, the "issues" surrounding the book have become bigger and stranger than anything I ever could have imagined, and who knows where it all may end. To quote an old tune that's long been a sort of personal anthem of mine, "I can't help but wonder where I'm bound."

(Images via New York Public Library, Wikipedia)