In the beginning was the word, and the word was plagiarized, and this regular old plagiarism was bad. But then Jonah Lehrer taught us about self-plagiarism, and that was bad, too, but somehow less so. And now Jane Goodall is teaching us about Wikipedia plagiarism, which seems bad as well, and you know what? It’s hard to grade these things anymore. What’s next? David Bowie cribbing lines from T.S. Eliot?
“As for the charge that [Constance] Garnett writes in an outdated language, yes, here and there she uses words and phrases that no one uses today, but not many of them. We find the same sprinkling of outdated words and phrases in the novels of Trollope and Dickens and George Eliot. Should they, too, be rewritten for modern sensibilities? (Would u really want that?)” It’s shaping up to be a day of passionate defenses. Writing for the New York Review of Books, Janet Malcom urges readers to put down their Pevear/Volokhonsky translations of Russian classics and pick Constance Garnett’s back up again.
Recommended Reading: “The Misanthropic Genius of Joy Williams” in The New York Times Magazine. Her latest collection of short stories, The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories, which was included on our most anticipated list, will be released on September 8th. “When I asked Williams what she wants out of a great story, she replied, ‘I want to be devastated in some way.’”
Over at Catapult, Mensah Demary shares the story of how he got to be a professional editor. As he puts it, “I was asked recently what it takes to succeed as a writer and editor. Actually, I was being asked a more specific question: how do you become a successful writer and editor? I don’t have the answers; I only have my life.” Pair with Kate Angus’s Millions essay on making a living as a poet.