Thursday, October 09, 2014

Three Questions for Profile Books

[Update: question 2 turned out to be irrelevant.**]
[Update 2: Profile has answered.]

Here are three questions I've asked the good people at Profile Books to answer in regard to Zizek's plagiarised paragraph:

1. Paul Taylor describes the document he was sent as the "full pre-copyedited manuscripted" whereas Zizek calls it "the complete manuscript (already copy-edited by the publisher)". If you can clarify when Zizek’s manuscript was copy-edited and how he was involved in the process it would be helpful.

2. There are no endnotes in the excerpt from the manuscript*, though the passage runs from the position of endnotes 19 to 23 in the book. Since the contents of the endnotes in the book are identical to Muller’s footnotes, someone must have added them "without [Zizek’s] knowledge" but while looking directly at the Muller text and at that time (apparently) also removed the quotation marks. Question: When and how were the endnotes added?**

3. The obvious question: is it true that Profile Books, not Slavoj Zizek, made the decision not to mark (indeed, to un-mark) the relevant passage as a quotation from Muller? And is it true that this change was made after Zizek had approved a previous version for publication? If so, what were you thinking?

I've been promised a reply sometime next week.
*Note: Taylor "confirm[s that] the details provided [in the clarification at IJZS] are a fully accurate representation of the manuscript, complete with its original formatting" (my emphasis).
**[Update: apparently the IJZS version had removed the footnotes. A full version of the manuscript has been made available at Although the file uses continuous numbering the footnotes here are otherwise as in the book.]


Presskorn said...

Good questions from the prosecutor. I am especially fond of "If so, what were you thinking?"... But you, of course, you know that the opposing counsel will object "Argumentative!", "Assumes facts not in evidence!", i.e. Profile Books will answer question 3 by stating that there was no such "decision", only a contingent human (or technical, depending on their temperament) error.

Thomas said...

I'm not sure what would be worse. The thought that book editors decide to do these sorts of things or the thought that they do so without thinking at all.

In any case, I am now really curious to know what happened here. Zizek's account plays into some of my darker fears about how books are made these days.