Haley Scholars Spring 2013 Reading Groups
By Cindy Lyles
In his essay “Something Borrowed,” Malcolm Gladwell describes how British playwright Bryony Lavery scripted a play using life details and quotes from psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis, as well as sayings from Gladwell’s previously published articles, as creative inspiration. Although Lavery contacted and cited Marian Partington as a source of inspiration for her hit play "Frozen," she somehow did not feel the same course of action was necessary for either Lewis or Gladwell.
In regards to not citing her sources, Lavery informed Gladwell that she “thought it was OK to use it. ... It never occurred to me to ask you. I thought it was news/” (238). Even if she felt justified in using the words and work of Lewis and Gladwell because it was just “news,” Lavery faced devastating effects for her actions. Accusations of her plagiarism left her disgraced and perhaps, publicly shunned after newspapers around the world learned of her “careless borrowing.”
As Gladwell points out, there is a lot of accepted, or at least tolerated, borrowing among musicians, but in writing, borrowing without attribution is policed down to the "level of the sentence." Aside from plagiarism being viewed as wrong and borrowing in certain artistic realms seeming less troubling, what do you think about the differences between the two and how they are viewed?