Summary of “Something Borrowed: Should a Charge of Plagiarism Ruin Your Life?” by Malcolm Gladwell

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Alexandra Jackson
English
Nataliya Husar
2/12/13
Summary of “Something Borrowed: Should a charge of plagiarism ruin your life?” By Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell writes the article, “Something Borrowed: Should a charge of plagiarism ruin your life?” That article corresponds to a specific incident of plagiarism between a play writer and a journalist. The play writer is Bryony Lavery and she takes work from Gladwell and specific moments in the psychiatrist, Dorothy Lewis’ life. Gladwell, begins the article by telling a story about Lewis’ friend who is watching a play and realizes that the main character in the play resembles Lewis. After some time, Lewis notices that the play is getting positive recognition. Lewis receives a call to speak to the cast of the play. Lewis agrees and is sent the script. Once Lewis begins to read the play, she notices similarities between the main character’s life in the play and her own life. Pretty soon, Lewis begins to realize the play is about her.

In the beginning Lewis notices the line, “It was one of those days” (Gladwell 2), in Lavery’s play. The script has specific scenarios that occur in Lewis’ life that Lavery takes. Lewis explains that she feels like, “Someone has stolen my essence” (Lewis). As a result, Lewis decides to contact her lawyer and they make a chart of the similarities between her life and Lavery’s play. Not only does Lavery use Lewis’ life as inspiration and take from her, but Lavery also takes from Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell notices Lavery uses words from a review he’s written to fill in her play. Gladwell then decides to send Lavery an email that says: “ I am happy to be the source of inspiration for other writers, and had you asked my permission to quote—even liberally—from my piece, I would have been delighted to Oblige. But to lift material without my approval is theft (Gladwell 5).” Gladwell is upset at first, but soon after he feels flattered in a way. Gladwell feels Lavery’s borrowing...
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