NYT adds editor's note on attribution to Emily Mortimer's Lolita essay

November 1, 2021 By 0 comment

The New York Times has added an editor’s note to Emily Mortimer’s recent essay on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita after the actress apparently plagiarized lines from an similar article from 2018.

The British-American film star published an last week discussing the controversial 1955 novel and how it has managed to escape ‘cancel culture’ despite the current political climate. 

But the essay was quickly revised after publication after editorial staff noted Mortimer, 49, had included sentences from an article published on  two years ago without citing the original author, reported.  

Actress Emily Mortimer published an New York Times essay last week regarding the controversial 1955 novel Lolita

The essay has since been revised after NYT editors noted Mortimer had passed sentences from writer Caitlin Flanagan’s 2018 article in The Atlantic as her own

Mortimer wrote about how the controversial book, which deals with pedophilia, has managed to escape ‘cancel culture

‘An earlier version of this essay included several sentences adapted, without attribution, from an article by Caitlin Flanagan, that appeared in the September 2018 issue of The Atlantic,’ the editor’s note reads. 

‘The essay has been revised to attribute those passages.’

The sentences in question were included in a paragraph in which Mortimer describes being completely engrossed by the book at first before becoming disturbed by the character’s pedophilia. 

‘But then, just a few pages later, and Humbert is — what the hell? — cursed to live in “a civilization which allows a man of 25 to court a girl of 16 but not a girl of 12”,’ Mortimer wrote. 

‘I had remembered much about Lolita, even if I had only pretended to read it — but 12?! I had certainly forgotten that vital digit, and it came as a shock.’

However, the revised paragraph shows Mortimer’s commentary and purported shock reaction to the story had actually come from Flanagan’s piece. 

Excerpt from Emily Mortimer’s original essay published in the New York Times on March 2 

Excerpt from Caitlin Flanagan’s 2018 article in The Atlantic 

Revised version of Mortimer’s essay 

The now reads: ‘Part of the charm of those first pages, as Caitlin Flanagan has noted in The Atlantic, is that they introduce Humbert as a winsome and sensitively tuned boy, a child himself. “But then,” Flanagan writes, “just a few pages later, he is an adult who is – what the hell? – ‘cursed to live in a civilization which allows a man of 25 to court a girl of 16 but not a girl of 12.’ One had heard certain things about Lolita – but 12?!”‘ 

The New Republic journalist Jacob Silverman first pointed out the editorial call on Twitter, saying Mortimer had ‘plagiarized’ parts of her essay. 

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