[ilds] Plagiarism

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Fri Jun 1 11:08:52 PDT 2007

Here's a hypothetical.  I write an article about Tibet, and I begin it by saying, "I know an old Tibetan saying, which goes, 'Mos gus yod na / Khyl so od tung,' which means, 'Where there is veneration, / Even a dog's tooth emits light.'"  I then go on to elaborate that proverb in terms of Tibetan culture.  I call the essay, "Tantric Veneration and the Canine."  The essay gets published, and it's praised highly.  I become famous and am considered an authority on Tibetan language and culture, although I know next to nothing about either.  People say that guy BR has great learning and knows a difficult language, and he surely must have read deeply in Tibetan to pull out such an obscure quotation.  None of which is true.  In fact, I came across the proverb in a London Gents, where I found a book besides the loo or toilet, whichever you prefer.  The scruffy black paperback was entitled The Black Book, by some guy called Lawrence Durrell, who happened to begin his story with that very proverb.  But I say nothing about this and am quite content to let everyone think I am a scholar of Tibetan literature, who does his own research and finds his own material.

Now, what did I do that was so wrong?  Aren't Tibetan proverbs there for everyone to use?  Is there a copyright on them?  Of course not.  Can't I do a little borrowing for literary purposes?  Would M. Durrell mind?  Surely not.

No.  I take the hard stand.  I was wrong.  I was not honest and did not attribute the actual source of my fame.  I have deceived people.  I have pretended to be someone I'm not.  And something like this is what I see Lawrence Durrell doing with Michael Haag's material in Caesar's Vast Ghost.  So, when talking about plagiarism, let us not hold the Master in too much veneration.


-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>Sent: Jun 1, 2007 8:49 AM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Plagiarism
>Hello all,
>If I were to articulate my thoughts on Durrell's borrowings or plagiarisms
>more thoroughly, it would take the following form, though I should hasten to
>add that we do not currently have all the instances catalogued, so
>everything all of us says is at least subject to some shift as patterns or
>trends may emerge.

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