Here’s a horrifying thought. What if someone wrote two chapters of a novel, purposely using plagiarized sections lifted directly from one of the world’s most recognizable female literary figures? And what if the publisher who had just recently republished the original author’s work turned down that new “author”? What if that same publisher told the “new” author that this “new” work of fiction was actually a “really original and interesting read” but not quite what the publisher was looking for? Wonder no more. It happened. For shame. What’s more, only one publisher of the many who read the manuscript recognized the work as Jane Austen‘s. One?
In this day of popped-out popular culture, it’s easy for many not to recognize the classic works of the great literary giants of yesteryear. Of course, not being a great literary mind myself, I’m hard pressed to recognize the theme of Romeo and Juliet in West Side Story. So I pass no judgment on those common folk who would more easily recognize the plagiarized text of Jackie Collins and Barbara Cartland before they’d recognize Jane Austen’s delicate word choices. But a publisher? Yikes. That just hurts. I want to think that some professionals, other than librarians and museum directors, can still act as the custodians of pre-20th-century literature.
Even if this “joke” novel was sent to one of the “mega” publishing firms and the lowest assistant on the lowest rung of the publishing ladder did a cursory reading of it, I would still hope that those individuals were literature majors. Isn’t that about all a lit major can do for a living right out of college, besides teach?
What’s even scarier is that at least six of Jane Austen’s novels have been turned into miniseries or movies! Even if the publishers haven’t actually read Jane Austen, they must have “seen” Jane Austen, right? I pray that Frances O’Connor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Beckinsale, and Kate Winslet could recognize a Jane Austen story.
By the way, if you didn’t catch the trailer for the new film The Jane Austen Book Club in Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever, here it is again:
I do wonder how far back this lack of literary knowledge runs in these publishing houses. I should try to use this to my advantage. I wish I had the full list of publishers this guy submitted his work to. See, I’m thinking of writing a little tale of an isolated woman in a rural area who’s not the most attractive woman but is certainly not as ugly as her hateful companion insists she is. One day she meets her companion’s lover and falls in love with the woman herself. I’m thinking of calling it The Color Lavender. But that’s not quite “old” enough for people to be completely clueless, is it? Well, it might be worth a try.