Lessons learned from Opal Mehta

I sometimes wonder if Kaavya Viswanathan, who wrote the Opal Mehta novel, feels sorry she is now known to be a plagiarist, or sorry she was caught and will no longer have future book sales. Harvard is immensely competitive, and I envision an admissions coach telling Miss Viswanathan, "Hey, maybe you can write a book before you apply? That'll give you that extra edge!"

I equally wonder if integrity and honor (and the virtue of being truly independently creative) are taught as important in the social structure at Harvard, as they seem to be to students at Oxford and Cambridge in the U.K.?

Am I generalizing something about American education and its need for superficial competitive fluff?


liz said...

Without any knowledge of the woman herself, I would speculate that whatever drove her to this was embedded in her psyche long, long, long before she ever went to Harvard.

Also we could speculate that doing what you have to do to get into Harvard AND doing the plagiarism thing are (at least for some) two aspects of the same (driven-toward-success) culture.

Another point: when I read articles about this, they talk about some sort of entity (separate from the publisher) that hired her to "develop this product" -- that is, there were a bunch of entrepreneurial-type hands involved in this series of books she contracted to write. So that's, in effect, yet another "symptom" of --- something. Maybe.

la Maitresse said...

Your points are insightful, Liz. I think you hit the nails on their heads.

la Maitresse said...

Oh, potty, I just sounded like a teacher.

My apologies, Liz.