The Little Book of Plagiarism

The Little Book of Plagiarism

By Richard A. Posner

Pantheon Books, Hardcover, 9780375424755, 116pp.

Publication Date: January 16, 2007


A concise, lively, and bracing exploration of an issue bedeviling our cultural landscape–plagiarism in literature, academia, music, art, and film–by one of our most influential and controversial legal scholars. Best-selling novelists J. K. Rowling and Dan Brown, popular historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose, Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, first novelist Kaavya Viswanathan: all have rightly or wrongly been accused of plagiarism–theft of intellectual property–provoking widespread media punditry. But what exactly is plagiarism? How has the meaning of this notoriously ambiguous term changed over time as a consequence of historical and cultural transformations? Is the practice on the rise, or just more easily detectable by technological advances? How does the current market for expressive goods inform our own understanding of plagiarism? Is there really such a thing as “cryptomnesia,” the unconscious, unintentional appropriation of another’s work? What are the mysterious motives and curious excuses of plagiarists? What forms of punishment and absolution does this “sin” elicit? What is the good in certain types of plagiarism?

Provocative, insightful, and extraordinary for its clarity and forthrightness, The Little Book of Plagiarism is an analytical tour de force in small, the work of “one of the top twenty legal thinkers in America” (Legal Affairs), a distinguished jurist renowned for his adventuresome intellect and daring iconoclasm.

About the Author
Richard A. Posner is Circuit Judge, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

Praise For The Little Book of Plagiarism

On Richard A. Posner:

“He writes with a flair that puts most journalists to shame and a depth of knowledge that puts most professors to shame.”
–Alan Ryan, The New York Times Book Review

“Posner has a voracious intellectual curiosity and a discipline for work rivaled by almost nobody in the United States.”
–Alan Wolfe, The New Republic

“An intellectual force to be reckoned with . . . he can lay claim to the title of pre-eminent judicial theorist of our time.”
–Leonard H. Becker, The Nation

“He writes with a refreshing parsimonious intensity.”
–Robert S. Boynton, The Washington Post

“A marvel. He is hyperactive like Harold Bloom, audacious like Christopher Hitchens, and a practical man of the world like Alan Greenspan.”
–David Brooks, The New York Times Book Review

“A polymath, a one-man think thank.”
–Gary Rosen, The Wall Street Journal

“Posner has not only the lively intelligence one expects of a public intellectual, but also extraordinary energy and resourcefulness.”
–Gertrude Himmelfarb, Commentary

“A felicitous writer with a marvelously caustic wit . . . a pleasure to read.”
–Eric Alterman, The Nation