From tomorrow on I’ll be in the UK for a couple of days. In urgent cases, I can still be contacted via e-mail or cellphone. And the office is still occupied in case someone desperately needs to get hold of me. But blogging will be rather sporadic for the next few days. So will responses to comments, etc…
In the meantime, here is a linkdump, beginning once more with a case of political plagiarism:
Germany has got another political plagiarism scandal and this one involves none other than Annette Schavan, secretary of science and education in Angela Merkel’s cabinet. We all know how the story goes by now, a prominent politician is found to have insufficiently footnoted their dissertation and sometimes, as in the case of Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg, turns out to have basically assembled the whole thing via cut and paste.
I must say that even after all the other political plagiarism cases, this one did shock me, because Annette Schavan never struck me as the sort of hyper-careerminded politician that usually seems to get embroiled in these scandals.
And indeed, Annette Schavan’s sins are less clear-cut than those of Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg, Silvana Koch-Mehrin and other political plagiarists. What Ms. Schavan did was quote sources she had never actually read but instead seen cited in other works. Now the usual way of doing things is that if you run across an interesting source quoted in some other work, you try to track that source down. Of course, some books and texts are simply too obscure to locate (and Ms. Schavan gained her doctorate in 1980, i.e. long before the Internet, Amazon, JSTOR, etc…, when many books and journals were very difficult to access). But in such cases, one quotes whoever cited the interesting source. What you don’t do is claim you read the quoted text yourself. Especially since the citation that seemed so interesting may have been misquoted or ripped out of context.
As always the evidence may be viewed at schavanplag. And talking of evidence, am I the only person who finds the subject of Ms. Schavan’s thesis, namely the formation of conscience in children and how to guide it, ever so slightly creepy?
At the Huffington Post, James Forrester wonders how accurate historical fiction can and should be.
Talking of historical fiction, Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize for Bringing Up the Bodies, a historical novel set in the Tudor era, which also happens to be the sequel to Mantel’s 2009 winner Wolf Hall. Mantel’s Tudor series is apparently a trilogy, so now the race is on whether part 3 will be able to nab a Booker as well.
George R.R. Martin apparently discovered the interview that Dennis Scheck of Druckfrisch did with him (that I linked to a while back) and posted about it on his livejournal. Found via Charles Tan. For comparison, here’s Patrick Rothfuss on being interviewed by Dennis Scheck a while back.
What strikes me as interesting in the Patrick Rothfuss post is that he was very surprised to find out that he was being interviewed by a highly regarded literary critic for a fairly highbrow program. Because it ties in with my experience of cultural programming on British and American TV, namely that it’s most fluff. Not that there’s anything wrong with fluff – German has more than its fair share of fluff. But in addition to fluff, we also have a lot of serious cultural programming. And if Oprah’s Book Club or Richard and Judy’s Book Club are rather underwhelming when you expect something along the lines of Das Literarische Quartett.
I should probably not be amused by this, but I am: The former adviser to the British government on alien threats (yes, that is a real job) talks about UFOs, aliens, how the British and presumably the rest of the world are going to fight them, if necessary, and says that no, they don’t have something like Torchwood or UNIT yet, but they could easily set one up, if necessary. Alas, I doubt that they have a Ianto or Owen, a Brigadier, a Sarah Jane or a Jo Grant, let alone a Captain Jack Harkness or a Doctor. Still, this is pretty damned cool.