Cheating? Please, it?s ?unconscious copying? | india | Hindustan Times
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Cheating? Please, it?s ?unconscious copying?

KAAVYA VISWANATHAN, the Harvard undergraduate who made waves with a $500,000 book contract a year ago, has now admitted to some "unconscious" copying -- nay, "internalising" -- from the work of an American author.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2006 01:20 IST

KAAVYA VISWANATHAN, the Harvard undergraduate who made waves with a $500,000 book contract a year ago, has now admitted to some "unconscious" copying -- nay, "internalising" -- from the work of an American author.

The oblique admission came close on the heels of an expose by The Harvard Crimson, the celebrated campus newspaper, which reproduced several passages from her recently published novel that were "strikingly similar" to ones from two books by Megan McCafferty.

The 19-year-old Viswanathan apologised to McCafferty and promised to make changes to future editions of her 320-page book, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life. 

But she did not quite confess to the charge of plagiarism, copying or borrowing.
She put it differently. “While the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn’t aware of how much I may have internalised Ms McCafferty's words,” she said.

“I'm a huge fan of her work and can honestly say that any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious. My publisher and I plan to revise my novel for future printings to eliminate any inappropriate similarities.”

In a statement issued by her publisher (Little, Brown and Co), Viswanathan said McCafferty’s two “wonderful novels” — Sloppy Firsts (2001) and Second Helpings (2003) — spoke to her in a way few other books did.

And then, she went on to dwell on how “surprised and upset” she was to learn about the “similarities” between “some passages” in her novel and those of McCafferty's books.

The Crimson’s website had juxtaposed 13 passages from Viswanathan's book and McCafferty's novels to make its point on “nearly identical” ideas and language.

The Chennai-born Viswanathan had migrated to Scotland with her parents Mary Sundaram and Vishwanathan Rajaraman when she was three. Nine years later, the family moved to New Jersey.