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« Caitlin Flanagan just wants to write | Main | Icarus and teenage heroes who fall - II »



I have to admit I don't agree with you on this one. Sure parents bear some responsibility for their maturing children, but eventually, just as Daedalus did, parents have to allow their children to fly or fall on their own. I think Icarus is more a story directed towards those coming of age than it is a warning to parents who let their children go too soon.

There are plenty of adults who fall for far less than a half a million bucks. I remember a scandal when I was in college when two professors, one with tenure, were busted for plagiarism that occurred over the course of 15 years. Sure, publishers have a responsibility, but not necessarily a greater responsibility based on the age of the author. If Kaavya was mature enough to get herself into Harvard, which is no easy task, mature enough to enter into a contract with a publishing company, and mature enough to write a novel, she was mature enough to understand the very basics of copyright law. Infantilizing her merely encourages the whole “it wasn’t me” lack of accountability that seems to be the real problem here. And I think our sociey’s coddling of teenagers and people in their 20’s actually encourages this.

Daedalus could have decided Icarus was too young for the journey and he and his son could have remained trapped forever.


Point abundantly taken, E. I agree that in this country we can coddle and infantilize with the best of them. But where I live we just went through four teens in a car flying off a freeway to their deaths because a father leant them his sports car and they drank and drove. So I'm a little sensitive to the issue of adult responsibility.

Just a couple of thoughts back at you.

I agree that Viswanathan bears responsibility in this situation, and I say that in the post. We expect students to submit their own work in academic situations and they are old enough to understand this. Kaavya, you knew better.

Nevertheless, when money, fame, achievement etc. are involved, the stakes are much higher and move into a different realm.

I don't think KV had to go through this. Publishers used her to make a buck-- someone who was clearly not ready to write a publishable novel. The fact that she is young does make a difference to me. I am sentimental enough to believe that we need to do right by the people who are less likely to be able to handle exploitation.

I work with teens every day and I see what they're capable of, what they want and love, and where they're vulnerable. I think we need to challenge them appropriately. Responsibility is a two-way street.

As for Daedalus, he could have waited till his son was older, just as publishers can wait for teens to become older, better, wiser writers.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to care about this issue, E!

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