JKR vs. DWJ (was: RE: Trying to access the archives ....)

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Sun Feb 1 02:29:12 EST 2004


Hallie wrote:

>>> I'm certainly not a JKR apologist,  and I'd obviously much prefer to
>>>be on the other side of this debate, but I can imagine her finding
>>>DWJ's comments quite upsetting, especially after she'd already had
>>>one stupid plagiarism court case. (Or is it more than one?)  Far
>>>safer to say you've hardly read anything except for a few older
>>>classics!

This may have come up here before, perhaps even it was I who brought it up,
but it seems relevant again. AFAIK, there has been only one court case
against Rowling, and the issue was not strictly plagiarism but infringement
of a written trademark. Author Nancy Stouffer accused JKR of making use of a
trademarked word, "Muggles", in such a way that interfered with her ability
to use the trademark to sell "Muggle" merchandise. I read through the court
decision on this case (it exists online, sorry I can't provide the URL), and
Stouffer comes out very very badly. She did not successfully prove that
there ever had been any "Muggles" merchandise sold, prior to the publication
of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". Her books had done so poorly
that the only copies the court was able to obtain had to be provided by
Stouffer herself, whereupon it was discovered that certain pages or passages
in the books were printed in a different font than others. It was later
proved that the second font had only been available for use in print
software in the late nineties, after the said books had allegedly been
published. An example of the changes (off the top of my memory, this may not
be precisely accurate): on the title page of her book, "The Legend of Rah"
was in one font, and under it in a second font had been added "And the
Muggles". As this was the sort of superficial evidence on which the entire
case had been built, the implied accusation that Rowling had plagiarized
from Stouffers books - which could only possibly have been available to her
by some freak chance, as they were sold only briefly and locally - was
positively outrageous. The bottom line: not only was the case rejected, but
Stouffer was reprimanded and *fined* for falsifying evidence. I think it is
safe to assume that this court case garnered more attention for Stouffer and
her books than they had ever received on their own and by all accounts
paltry merit.

HOWEVER

I can't believe JKR never read or heard of Jill Murphy's "The Worst Witch"
series, for example. There are lines in her books that echo other classic
books in such a way that almost must be intentional; compare Dumbledore's
statement: "After all, to the well organised mind, death is but the next
great adventure", to Peter Pan's "To die would be an awfully big adventure".
Surely Rowling must have at the very least seen a panto of Peter Pan?!?! I
can't believe that was not an intentional literary device, linking
Dumbledore to the ever-youthful Peter Pan. Roald Dahl, Eva Ibbotson, Neil
Gaiman and Jane Yolen have all written characters with striking similarities
to Harry, well before Harry exsisted. And so has DWJ. For that matter, many
much earlier predecessors exist, such as the young Art in "The Once and
Future King", or Clark Kent, or Oliver Twist, or (to quote "Pretty Woman"):
"Cinder - f***ing - rella!" Even if JKR did not read all these sources, they
are part of the culture that raised her, and they affected her indirectly.
To deny this would be misguided and pointless.


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