Monday, 3 May 2010

Helene Speaks

She's been hounded by the press, she's spawned her very own neologism for lifting pieces of text, she's cancelled appointments and appearances – and now she's written a long piece in DIE ZEIT addressed at her critics. I've read it once and the article is still languishing beside my bed, her face gazing reproachfully up at me every night until I get round to re-reading it.

Helene Hegemann's certainly not afraid to voice her emotions, and I'm struck once again by the way her words are so similar to the diction of the novel all the fuss has been about, Axolotl Roadkill. Here's what she says about the whole matter:

Something I never concealed – the fact that a number of sentences in my book – a number not unusual in literature over the past centuries – were once written in similar form elsewhere became a full-blown opportunity to 1. not take me seriously, 2. insult me and 3. parade the wildest speculations as proven facts. "A few sentences" blew up into "numerous passages" and in the end 90 percent of the book that I had allegedly copied from the internet. Many journalists I communicated with during this time refused – whether their articles were intended to attack me or defend me – to include what is actually the most important fact: that the passages referred to as plagiarism (not copied but modified and placed in an entirely different context) amount to approximately one single page out of 206.

It's well worth reading for a taste of Hegemann's inimitable style and a reminder that what she did was not a deadly sin - and that the reactions went well overboard. Oh, and why all kids don't have to hate their parents, and why all 18-year-olds aren't the same, and how to deal with people throwing darts at your photo.

1 comment:

Goethe-Institut London said...

Hi Katy,
The Goethe-Institut London will be hosting an event on Thursday which might be of interest to you and your readers. Erica Wagner (The Times) and Christoph Bartmann (SZ, FAZ) will be talking about plagiarism, the canon and the 'moral' reponsibility of the literary critic. It would be great, if you could make your readers aware of this event. there is more info on:

Thanks very much!

Kind regards,

P.S. Sorry for posting this as a comment. I could not find your email address anywhere.