Indiana U. Press withdraws book, saying it insufficiently acknowledges another author's work





When Edward H. Blickstein picked up a copy of Vladimir de Pachmann: A Piano Virtuoso's Life and Art, by Mark Mitchell, published by Indiana University Press, he was"absolutely stunned" -- but not by Mr. Mitchell's fresh new take on the subject.

As a young man, Mr. Blickstein had been turned on to Pachmann (1848-1933) by his piano teacher. For almost half a century, on and off, he toiled on his own biography of the once-legendary Chopin interpreter whose onstage antics earned him the nickname"the Chopinzee."

What he read in Mr. Mitchell's book felt all too familiar."He took maybe 40 to 50 percent of the material for his book from my manuscript," Mr. Blickstein says."There was no way he could have gotten this information" from any other source.

Indiana University Press reached a similar conclusion. In October, it withdrew Mr. Mitchell's book from circulation, saying that the volume"does not sufficiently acknowledge the intellectual debt it owes to Mr. Blickstein's prior labors."

With the possible exception of their manuscripts, the two Pachmann scholars have almost nothing in common. Mr. Blickstein lives in what Mr. Benko describes as a very modest circumstances on Staten Island, supplemented by occasional help from friends. Mr. Mitchell travels in high-flying circles; he landed a Guggenheim Fellowship this year, and his longtime partner is David Leavitt, a novelist who wound up on the wrong side of a plagiarism charge in 1994 when English writer Stephen Spender sued him for borrowing too heavily from Spender's memoir, World Within World.

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