One of the problems of publishing in general - and publishing online in particular - arises when no one reads what one has written. A website can keep track of how many "hits" has occurred there, but it cannot give one any idea of what happened when the "hit" occurred, if it happened in error, if anyone actually reads what is posted there, etc.
When I reported in Senses of Cinema three years ago that a two essays in a book published in 2004 had been copied, almost word for word, from an essay published more than twenty years before by another writer, nothing happened. Or so I thought.
It seems that others have noticed such resemblances involving writings published by the same author. A comment posted by William MacAdams on Richard Brody's blog at The New Yorker, "About 'Truffaut's Last Interview," reads as follows:
"Dear Richard Brody: A few years ago I was curious to see if there were any books in English on the greatly neglected Vittorio De Sica. The only study of him I knew of was Stephen Harvey's monograph (in English) published by Cinécitta in 1991. I discovered there was a new book by Bert Cardullo. When I began reading Cardullo's "Vittorio De Sica: Director, Actor, Screenwriter," it seemed very familiar. I compared Stephen Harvey's and Cardullo's texts to find that they were virtually identical. Cardullo had added the occasional snippet of information, which required alterations in Harvey's text, but otherwise the two books were the same. Cardullo included Harvey's monograph in his bibliography but called it a "brochure." Stephen Harvey was dead when Cardullo published his plagiarism in 2002. I had never heard of Cardullo at that time and only knew Harvey slightly from MoMA, where he was a curator in the film department. I contacted the University of Michigan, where Cardullo was then employed, and referred them to Harvey's monograph (which hardly any libraries in the U.S. had copies of, and at that time there were none to be had from abebooks.com). Shortly thereafter, I received several threatening e-mails from Cardullo, advising me that his lawyer had been informed and that if I continued to repeat the allegation of plagiarism he was intending to sue. He also demanded to know my home address. I didn't reply to his e-mails and never heard from him again. Months later, I was contacted by the University of Michigan to inform me Cardullo had been dismissed. For some time after that, Cardullo's publisher, McFarland, kept the book in print. A while later, a friend who was teaching at N.Y.U. told me that Cardullo had been hired to teach there! Yours, William MacAdams ps I am an admirer of your superb book on Godard."
This is an ongoing nightmare for some, including myself. Singling out a writer for, albeit qualified, praise has made me somewhat proprietary of his work. This is what happens with all great critics - they are so hard to find that following them is a kind of ritual, an act of faith in criticism and in literature (since even movie critics are writers). Such critics are what is now known as "niche domains."
So it is all the more upsetting to see the work of one such critic unravel before my eyes. I suspected that there are probably more suspect texts by Cardullo around. This is the latest.