The Novelist’s Plagiarism Defense is a truly stunning document
On Wednesday, The guard reported that The dogsa 2022 novel by Australian writer John Hughes, contains passages copied fairly entirely without attribution The Great Gatsbyand from English language translations by Anna Karenina and nothing new in the West. He had previously been found to have singled out passages from an English language translation of The unfeminine face of war, a non-fiction book by Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich. Picking up other authors’ work and passing it off as your own is plagiarism; it’s about as easy as plagiarism.
It is also in the case of Gatsby, western frontand Anna Karenina Thefts as outrageous as plagiarism can get, aside from scrawling your name over JK Rowling’s on a hardcover Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and trying to sell it as your own work to the editor of JK Rowling while that editor is sitting at a table having lunch with JK Rowling. The Great Gatsby perhaps the most read and discussed English language novel ever written! Anna Karenina and nothing new in the West are also world-famous books that have been on the public school reading plans for generations. Any passage of any of these three books with particular artistic merit that the plagiarist wishes to borrow will immediately put any high school liberal arts teacher on high alert, and that’s before you even get to the armies of volunteer internet sniffer dogs sifting through every new book Plagiarism detection just for the fun of detecting a scam.
And we’re not talking about things like “‘Hello,’ he said”! We talk about things like this (emphasis added):
Out of The Great Gatsby:
“He smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in itthat you meet maybe four or five times in life. It faced—or appeared—to face the whole eternal world for a moment, and then focused on you with an irresistible bias in your favor. It understood you as much as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you wanted to believe in yourself, and reassured you that it got exactly the impression of you you hope to give when you are at your best.”
Out of The dogs:
“She smiled at me then, one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it with a bit of luck you will meet once in your life. It faced—or appeared—to face the whole eternal world for a moment, and then focused on you with an irresistible bias in your favor. It understood you as much as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you wanted to believe in yourself, and reassured you that it got exactly the impression of you you hope to give when you are at your best.”
Yes, yes, sure, a million monkeys on a million typewriters for a million years or whatever. But there’s no plausible “Oh, F. Scott Fitzgerald and I, independently, separated by 97 years, happened to come across the exact same 52-word sequence to describe a smile” defense for it. But there is also no plausible “In my many readings of The Great Gatsby I happened to unknowingly record this 52-word passage so accurately that I can reproduce it, down to the punctuation, without consulting a copy of The Great Gatsby, but I also forgot who wrote it or that anyone but me wrote it “Defense. There is no defense!
In any case, The guard published Hughes’ written response to his story not long after the story itself. That response want be a pathetic apology, an exhaustive voluntary cataloging of his crimes against literature and publishing, and basic decency and a vow to retire forever from the publishing world, weren’t Hughes, well, the kind of person to step up to steal undeserved fame the works of others. What it would be like if he had made up his mind to write his answer to it The guard With the express intention of convincing everyone who reads it that he is in fact a prolific and knowing plagiarist and a scathing fraud, he could hardly have done better than his very first paragraph:
Here’s a famous phrase, the opening line to it A hundred years of loneliness: “Many years later, facing the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía recalled that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover the ice.” And here, from Juan Rulfo’s 1955 novel Pedro Paramo, a favorite of Marquez, said: “Years later, Father Renteria recalled the night his hard bed had kept him awake and driven him outside.” Plagiarism? A few words have been changed here and there. A few added, a few removed. Influence? The distinction is not as clear-cut as the words might suggest.
John Hughes as published in The Guardian
My brain is full of screams. I’ve read this at least five times and I’m gasping for air. This is maybe the most outrageous stuff I’ve ever read or heard. I almost admire it for its crazy boldness.
In defense of his pocketing paragraph-sized chunks of verbatim text from the novels of others into his own, without attribution, the best Hughes could do was to suggest that a person might mistake Gabriel Garcia Marquez for a plagiarist – could at least dispute the question of whether Marquez was guilty of a shady one To have ambiguity operated a contested space between originality and artistic theft – because not He was the first person in world history to use the word “father” in a sentence about a person who remembers something. That’s not even the most incredible part of it! The most incredible part is that this shoddy shit is the best he could come up with… and he still thought he had a defense worth making.
This is psychotic! It’s like being caught walking out of the Museum of Modern Art The starry night under your arm and said, “Ah, but wasn’t Claude Monet as ‘guilty’ when he was painting Woman with an umbrella, although other painters have painted outdoors before? Isn’t that the noblest tradition in art?” I can’t decide whether to be outraged at the shamelessness of this bullshit or envious of the total detachment from even the most rudimentary notions of honor and integrity that would make such a thing possible. How free must it be! How free and stupid and ridiculous!
The whole thing is like that. Here’s more:
Bob Dylan (who himself has faced countless accusations of plagiarism) once said that all music is folk music. The history of classical music, for example, is the history of the appropriation of folk forms and melodies. Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Bartok, the list is endless. And modern musical sampling is only the latest manifestation of this long history.
After about six hundred words in search of justification for his elevation and passing on as his own entire verbatim passages from easily identifiable literary classics, this motherfucker has already managed to imply that Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Beethoven are plagiarists. The ship goes down and rammed into as many other ships as possible to try to do better in the rating for one’s own captain role.
Here’s the second half of the same paragraph that said, “It’s cool, Franz Liszt stole too nothing new in the West” or whatever (emphasis added):
Every artist takes. What else do we do but endlessly recycle stories? It’s a process that’s been going on since ancient Greek tragedians first recycled the stories of Homer for the feast of Dionysus, or Shakespeare tapped the almost bottomless well of chroniclers, or novelists decided to write historical fiction. The fact is it doesn’t matter what you take, but what you do with it.
OK, yes, finally something we can agree on. What matters in this case is less that you read pieces of text by other, better authors than what you did with those pieces Type them into your manuscript and try to pass them on to readers and critics as your own. I hope John Hughes never publishes another novel, short story or poem. But I have to admit, I kind of hope now that he writes 10,000 more equally tormented plagiarism defenses. This shit is gold! What an original spirit.