Rapport de Police

Year: 
2010

In Rapport de Police, Marie Darrieussecq addresses the accusations of plagiarism levied against her by authors Marie NDiaye and Camille Laurens. To write this essay, Darrieussecq conducted much research on numerous authors’ experiences with accusations of plagiarism, “from Cervantes to Melville, passing by the Nobel winners Pablo Neruda or Camillo Jose Cela… they are numerous, those who have born this infamous accusation.” Darrieussecq’s dissatisfaction with the lack of body of literature treating the subject of plagiarism influenced her decision to write a collection of short historical narratives that highlights various relationships between the author and his or her work.  In chapter one, “L’Embarras de Freud,” Darrieussecq recounts the accusations of plagiarism among Sigmund Freud and his colleagues. Multiple themes come up in this chapter that run the course of the essay: the student’s difficulty in separating his own opinions from those of his teacher and his colleagues; a writer’s megalomania and desire to have claim to an idea; and the question of “ownership” of thoughts: when does a thought begin, and to which person did it appear to first? Darrieussecq’s treatment of Celan in chapter two highlights his re-invention of the beauty of the German language and the pure connection he maintained to his art. Thus, when the widow of an author whose work Celan translated accused him of plagiarism, the accusation pained him so much that he eventually took his own life. Next, Darrieussecq recounts Mandelstam’s national debacle over alleged plagiarism and compares the situation with today’s literary world, wherein authors have the freedom to continue writing even after accusations of plagiarism. Darrieussecq concludes that authors must reconcile with the fact that there is a large and complex network of thinkers that exists outside of themselves, and that these Others produce ideas which, while the writer may have thought of, she cannot prove to own.

Adelita Barrett, University of Arizona