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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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Today, the Guardian published the following 140-character short story by Jeffrey Archer.

"It's a miracle he survived," said the doctor. "It was God's will," said Mrs Schicklgruber. "What will you call him?" "Adolf," she replied.

This evening, I have sent the following to the Guardian books editor.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write to express my unease at the publication of Jeffrey Archer's 140-character "novel" in this week's books section (, not, as one might suspect on grounds of objection to its tired content, but rather for the fact that it is 100% plagiarised.

Archer's piece is identical in premise and plot, without any elaboration (how could it add in 140 characters?), to Roald Dahl's distinctive 1962 short story "Genesis and Catastrophe". As a lecturer in literature, I appreciate more than most Eliot's adage that "great poets steal", but Archer is neither a great poet, nor is he in any way reworking or supplementing the material.

In my view, this is straightforward plagiarism of a very specific and unmistakable story and I feel the Guardian should seriously consider whether this is a practice that it wishes to endorse.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Paul Eve

I would like to note that Jeffrey Archer, although a convicted perjurer, is also a litigious being. I would therefore add that I am not necessarily implying that Archer plagiarised the Dahl piece deliberately, but merely that he has at the very least been lapse in not researching if anybody had done this before, which is still plagiarism. Certainly the excuse on intentionality would not hold in a University environment.