Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cheaters Never Gain . . .

Latest issue of The New Yorker has a piece about a guy named Quentin Rowan, a writer who produced under the pen name Q.R. Markham. I used the term "produced" advisedly, because Rowan stands alone at the pinnacle of the mountain called Plagiarism. This debut novelist, who had published a number of works before, was discovered to have copied virtually the entire text of a forthcoming novel Assassin of Secrets (for which he had been given an advance and of which 6,500 copies had actually been published) from dozens of already-published sources. The amazing thing about this guy is that the plagiarism was so wide-reaching, the book is constructed "almost entirely from other people's sentences and paragraphs . . . a singular literary artifact," according to the New Yorker article. What's more, Rowan, 34, has left a train of plagiarized works stretching out ten years behind him. Examples of the plagiarized passages can be found here

I note this for a couple of reasons: first, it's fascinating to me as a writer how much effort this guy used to cheat . . . probably much more than would have been required to write the thing himself. The second reason is much more personal. I don't teach at the university level any longer because plagiarism was so rampant and even when it was exposed, it was tolerated and students were not disciplined. What happened was I was disciplined, i.e., not allowed to teach anymore when I made too much noise about letting cheaters get by with cheating.

Cheaters never gain is a quaint expression, but there's no true in it.
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