Hot Teenage Writer + Plagiarism = 2006 All Over Again


There's another angel in Teenage Plagiarism Heaven today. Helene Hegemann, author/curator of the German party-generation novel Axolotl Roadkill, has been busted lifting passages from several sources, including another German party-generation novel.

Plagiarism checklist:

Helene Hegemann under arrest for plagiarism.

Underage plagiarist? Check. The 17-year-old Hegemann is the daughter of Carl Hegemann, a prominent writer, academic and theater manager.

Author branding? Check. While not in the top rank of beauties, Hegemann comes with skanky club-kid charm to spare. Her tale of wild sex and copious drug use among teenagers has predictably excited the old farts of Germany's literary establishment, and she has been lauded for her searing authenticity.

Passages stolen from less-fortunate author? Check. The primary target in this case has been the blogger Airen, who at 29 is old enough to be a great-grandparent, and whose club-generation novel Strobo was published by the small Berlin house SuKuLTuR.

Me-no-remember defense? No check! Unlike Gerald Posner, who recently used the never-believable argument that he could not recall lifting sentences for a Daily Beast column, Hegemann merely regretted not having acknowledged all the contributors.

Author confession? Better than most. Hegemann made no effort to cover up her lifts, and her publisher did the same, putting the blame on these kids and their "sharing" culture, leading to…

Internet-made-me-do-it defense? Partial. In comments to Buchmarkt, Hegemann cops to "ruthlessly robbing my friends, filmmakers, other writers, and myself," but only in the context of a collaborative-creation model (leaving out the vexatious details about who gets paid when the collaboration is done).

Philosofuturistic mallarkey? Check. In addition to the publisher's comments above, Hegemann extemporizes about being "only a tenant in my own head," and offers, "There's no such thing as originality anyway, there's only authenticity."

Potential for plagiarism to add to author's cred? Most definitely. I've never met a club kid who was shy about taking the five-finger discount.

My question: When is a plagiarist going to use the ReTweeting defense?

Back in '06, when Harvard was still a breeding-ground for literary ripoff artists rather than for homicidal academics, everybody wanted to throw the hastily-withdrawn-and-pulped book at sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan, for the copious stolen pasages in her book How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. But I loved her so much I wanted to change my name to Kaavyanaugh. Viswanathan and that year's bumper crop of book crooks provided important lessons about efficient literary arbitrage, the pointlessness of authenticity, and the importance of craft and invention even (or especially) in autobiographical literature.

NEXT: Your Annual President's Day Thread

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  1. Uh, that’s a hot teenages writer? The one in the picture? In that second shot she looks like she needs a face wash…or a shave.

    1. Looks like Carol Beer.

      1. Looks a lot better after six beers

        1. Are those zits on her chin, or has she been picking at her meth creepy-crawlies again?

  2. While not in the top rank of beauties

    Understate much, Tim? She’s a dog. That plagiarizes. Now, while that’s a pretty good trick for a dog, it’s still not that impressive.

    1. Do I note a familial resemblance?

      Just sayin’…

  3. That’s as hot as Germans get.

    1. Demonstrably false. Expect a visit from the Ghost of Winter Olympics Past.

    2. You mean like Heidi Klum and Claudia Schiffer?

      1. They’re German in name only.

      2. Or Antje Traue?

        Nah, she ain’t hot . . .

        She’s sizzling!

  4. Arrested for plagiarism? What happened to being fired, mocked and discredited? Arrested?

    1. It’s called a joke.

  5. If William Shakespeare had as good of lobbyists as Walt Disney, Tom Stoppard* would be in the same positon as Helene Hegemann. I dont think I have ever heard Stoppard called a plagiarist.

    *referring to my R&G are dead reference from yesterday’s thread.

    1. One of my favorite movies.

      1. Movie?

        (and yeah, I know it was eventually made into a movie).

        1. Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Richard Dreyfuss — great story + great cast.

  6. Lay off Tim. He’s married, right? I understand that not-wife + skank = hot after a certain point.

    1. Ya but in this situation, that ‘certain point” would have to be after a fifth of airplane fuel, that way your not only drunk but blind as well.

  7. Good Lord. I would not fuck her with your dick, Tim.

  8. Are we sure that we should be reading the “hot” in the title as a statement on her physical appearance though? When someone mentions to me that “so and so is a hot new writer” my mind doesn’t wander to visions of a bombshell at a typewriter, I assume that “hot” means that people are buzzing about them.

    1. Tim likes jailbait. This is well known, especially if his wife is reading this.

    2. Maybe by “hot” he meant stolen. Like from the zoo.


  9. “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, there’s only authenticity.” [citation needed]

    1. What citation could possibly satisfy you? A full discussion and analysis of literary tradition throughout the ages?

      I think that the statement about originality is quite true in a sense. That still doesn’t make it OK to copy other people’s stuff without permission or acknowledgment. But it also doesn’t make a book any less pleasant or interesting to read.

      1. I agree with her statement also, in the sense that much of the history of art has simply been a retelling or variation of past themes or repackaged with new media. But in this case, a plagarist ? who was apparently swiping entire pages ? using “there’s no such thing as originality anyway” as a defense deserves some smart-assed questions. Like, if there is no originality, won’t your entire output of refried prose need a citation?

        And it won’t because it’s original. Except for the parts she plagarized. I hope she’s not so dense she can’t understand that. If so, since she’s “only a tenant in my own head,” maybe she can ask another tenant. There seems to be a lot of room in there.

        1. “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, there’s only authenticity.” [citation needed]

  10. What is the point of this post? Does it have something to do with IP? Are we supposed to just know what point you are trying to make?

    Cavanaugh uses phrases like “five finger discount” and “stealing” to describe plagiarism, so I’m guessing he thinks there was some sort of property involved, unless he was being ironic or something.

    1. We hate most in others what we hate most in ourselves. Hmmmmm…

      1. Is Cavanaugh against “IP”? Should people be free to casually lift material?

        1. I, for one, think people should be free to causally lift material.

  11. Before Proactiv {fig. 1}

    After Proactiv {fig. 2}

    Helene will never buy anything hawked by that bitch Avril Lavinge again.

    1. The stuff you post from your jerkPhone is always of an inferior quality. Jerk.

      1. You are such a whiny little bitch. Did your boyfriend not deliver a Valentine’s Day up to your superfag standards?

        1. NO, YOU DIDN’T.


          1. I think it’s time for you take a swim in Lake You.

        2. It’s called Anna Howard Shaw day as far as Epi is concerned.

    2. Are you saying Avril Lavgine isn’t authentic?

      I think she’s still dreamy, even though at some point she turned into an edgier Hillary Duff. WTF is with the smile, Avril? Flip someone off!

      And don’t hawk Proactiv to German uglies – it doesn’t work on them.

    3. I would do Avril Lavinge for days on end.

      1. Reason has terrible taste.

        At least I somewhat respected you when lobster girl was the flavor of the day.

  12. Is the whole “party generation” thing still going on? I was of the understanding that grinding poverty is the new irrational exuberance this decade.

  13. Bah, Hegemann is just envious of Charlotte Roche.

  14. “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, there’s only authenticity.”
    I’ll cop to not having read her book, nor do I have any intent to ever do so, but I still think her lawyers could mount a solid case against Larry Clark and his time machine.

  15. Hegemann made no effort to cover up her lifts, and her publisher did the same, putting the blame on these kids and their “sharing” culture

    And she would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

    On the bright side, plagiarism wouldn’t stop her from becoming Vice-President. (Not being American would, and they don’t have a Vice-President in Germany….)

  16. They’re German in name only.

  17. Hot? Hmmm, I dont see nothing Hot about her! Looks like she fell out of an ugly tree and hit every breanch on the way down.


    1. That’s actually kind of funny.

      1. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Don’t lose your focus.

  18. The publisher’s “remix culture” defense only works if you are upfront about your sources in the first place. Especially if you’re collaging big chunks of other people’s work. Striking some copyfree pose, after you’ve been caught, is not credible. I’m sympathetic to the ideas she expresses, it’s just that I don’t want dishonest assholes on my team.

  19. It’s epidemic:

    NY Times probes reporter’s lifting from other news sources:

    The New York Times is conducting an investigation after a Wall Street and finance reporter was found to have improperly used wording and passages from other news organizations.
    Zachery Kouwe, who joined the Times in 2008 from the New York Post, “reused language from The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and other sources without attribution or acknowledgement,” the Times said in an editors’ note.

    The Times said Kouwe appeared to have “improperly appropriated wording and passages published by other news organizations” in a number of business articles over the past year and in posts on’s DealBook blog.

    According to his biography on the Times website, the New York-based Kouwe worked from 2005 to 2008 at the New York Post, where he was chief mergers and acquisitions reporter.

    The Wall Street Journal alerted the Times to similarities between a Journal story and a Times story of February 5, the newspaper said.

    “A subsequent search by The Times found other cases of extensive overlap between passages in Mr. Kouwe?s articles and other news organizations,'” the Times said.

    “Copying language directly from other news organizations without providing attribution — even if the facts are independently verified — is a serious violation of Times policy and basic journalistic standards,” the newspaper said.

    “It should not have occurred. The matter remains under investigation by The Times, which will take appropriate action consistent with our standards to protect the integrity of our journalism.”

    According to the Times website, Kouwe covers hedge funds, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, investment banking and other subjects.….._article=1

    1. With a very punchable face:…..uwe190.jpg

  20. “While not in the top rank of beauties”

    you think??

    “Her tale of wild sex” now this is where I call bullshit, who is fucking her? and to think she is just 17, god i cant imagine how she will look in 10 years…

  21. This is why I try to only read books by dead people.

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