Literary Cannibalism

Here’s a new twist on the fanfic debate:   an article in the Daily Telegraph implies that  Thomas Harris stole from Hannibal Lector fanfic for his novel HANNIBAL RISING. The article quotes some fanfic passages and compares them to passages in Harris’ new novel.

Trawling through the Lecter fanfic, one comes on other tantalising parallelisms. Six years ago, for example, ‘Leeker17’, on
posted a narrative which uncannily forecasts the opening chapters of
Hannibal Rising in its detailed description of how the hero’s parents
and sister met their ends in 1944. So close is it that one might fancy
that Leeker17 had some privileged connection with Harris. Or that
Harris himself, under a nom-de-web, may be the ‘leaker’. Or, like
Blythebee, Leeker17 may just have struck lucky.

an author picks up and uses something from ‘his’ fanfic is he
plagiarising, collaborating, or merely playing games? One thing’s
certain. Harris won’t tell us.

(Thanks to Sarah Weinman for the heads-up!)

4 thoughts on “Literary Cannibalism”

  1. Hmm. Those two passages the article quotes are fairly similar, but it might just be two people using the same source – once you take the Memory Palace idea, the notion of walking around it and having lots of rooms, some of which have bad things happening in them, is obvious enough to occur to two people independently.
    They definitely look like the work of different writers; the ‘fan’ one is much more awkwardly written – narrower vocab, clumsier rhthyms, and less vivid. (Though Harris’s passage is a mixture of good writing and that odd obsession with flaunting artistic factoids and expensive lifestyle choices that seems to have grown on him since his early work.)
    If the fan wanted to claim Harris was plagiarising, I’d personally give Harris the benefit of the doubt.

  2. I think it’s really highly unlikely that an established author would plagiarize from his/her fans and I really doubt anything like this will ever go to court. If it did and a judge ever ruled in the favor of the fanfic writer over the original author he/she should lose their bench.
    It could always be a publicity stunt. Either on the part of the fanfic writer or on the part of the original author. Either way I think it’s insane for any kind of fanfic writer to think they in any way have any rights to the fanfic they write.


Leave a Comment