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Novelist defends Wikipedia 'plagiarism'

STEALING from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, is not necessarily plagiarism. It can also be an experimental form of literature. Even a form of "beauty".

This was the angry defence made by the best-selling French novelist Michel Houellebecq after allegations that he lifted passages of his latest book from Wikipedia.fr.

French novelist Houellebecq, a previous winner of the Impac Literary Award and once a resident of Co Clare, does not deny that he copied technical descriptions from the anonymous compilers of Wikipedia.

A couple of passages in his acclaimed new novel La Carte Et Le Territoire were lifted verbatim. They include a description of how flies have sex.

However, he dismissed as "ridiculous" a suggestion on the French website Slate.fr that copying and pasting from Wikipedia might be considered a form of plagiarism.

"If these people really think that [this is plagiarism], they haven't got the first notion of what literature is," he said. "This is part of my method.