The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words


9:24 pm - July 3rd 2011

by Carl Packman    


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Man writes amazing words. Man wins prize for writing amazing words. We later find out that man’s words are stolen from another man’s book. You may think I’m referring to Johann Hari, but in actual fact this is an account of George Orwell.

It is widely recognised that the plot of Nineteen Eighty-Four (man lives in totalitarian society, has instincts towards rebellion, is encouraged by female companion to write down thoughts of rebellion, system finds the man and woman, brainwashes man into believing he loves the system he lives in) is identical to Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin’s novel We, originally published in English in 1924.

Orwell reviewed the book for Tribune Magazine in 1946 and he acknowledged the part We had to play in the creation of 1984 in a letter to George Woodcock (1967), in which he stated that he had “only been able to obtain a copy of the book in French and was looking for an English translation.”

The Orwell Prize organisers, who are investigating whether or not to withdraw Hari’s prize for journalism in 2008, are aware that Orwell borrowed the idea for his novel from a book he understood to be circulating slowly in England.

In their print of Orwell’s We review they link to an article by Paul Owen discussing whether it matters that Orwell “pinched the plot” (to which Owen answers not really).

No call, as far as I’m aware, has been made by The Orwell Prize for the Partisan Review to withdraw their prize for Orwell, which was the total of £357.

Hari’s crime is not so different. I can believe he nicked an excerpt from a book to clarify a quote during an interview – I think it’s wrong, but I can believe it – and he has since apologised.

I really don’t think The Orwell Prize should withdraw his award for this matter, not least because it is part of the furniture for writing. We only have to look at Orwell himself to realise.

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About the author
Carl is a regular contributor. He is a policy and research analyst and he blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.
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Reader comments


*sighs*

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a work of fiction.

Honestly!

2. Red Snapper

Well I knew Orwell went to the same school as Cameron, and wrote positive reviews of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom – the bible of the libertarian right, but I didn’t know he was a plagiarist too. Thanks for that snippet.

3. Charles Wheeler

No doubt Shakespeare would be in real trouble if the appropriation of plots were to become a punishable offence. A few Greek dramatists might also have a case to answer.

A devastating analysis, only slightly marred by the fact that Orwell was writing, er, fiction.

5. Mr S. Pill

Oh come on. Using a similar plot in a novel is in no way comparable to a journalist passing himself off as a great interviewers when in fact he’s taking sources from elsewhere. They are nothing alike.

Honestly, the shameful defence of Hari by some on the left is making me sick. Just admit the man’s a charlatan ffs.

*sigh*

I swear no one can take a joke in this place.

7. Paul Newman

Shakespeare “nicked ” the plot of Lear,a version of the Cinderella story, in fact all his plots are derived from other sources . The value ascribed to originality is a modern sensibility by which I mean “Not mediaeval or pre literary …” I have long thought it was an overestimated quality. In the case of 1984 it would be fascinating to compare the source material with the book itself . Elliot wrote of plagiarism , that a good bad poet imitates ,a good one steals.
Hari is not a poet playwright or novelist. His invention is not of words, but facts.The speaking of those words at a given tim .This is called lying and makes Hari a laughing stock. Nothing he writes from this point can be regarded as true.

One is a work of fiction that borrows plot elements, however heavily.

The other is a journalist who listed quotes directly from other journalists interviews to make his own interviews look better.

It’s totally and utterly different.

This might be the stupidest thing I’ve read all week. And It’s Sunday evening.

9. the a&e charge nurse

“I’m really just a Photostat machine. I pour out what has already been fed in. …”
David Bowie – 1971

10. Paul Newman

..Was this post intended as a satires on desperate and futile defences then? They say comedy is best played straight but I am not sure the gag will carry the weight of po faced pseudo argument the author serves ( for our amusement ?)

Oh, it’s a joke.

I couldn’t tell because of the lack of anything funny.

12. Terry Stewart

Oh it’s a joke?

It’d be a better joke if it didn’t bear a striking resemblance to all the other piss-poor attempts you’ve made to defend him this week.

To quote Mr S Pill- He’s a charlatan. He just happens to be *your* charlatan this time.

The only thing Hari and Orwell share in common is their disgusting socialism and the ensuing moral depravity.

With his embrace of self-styled anarchists in the Spanish civil war against the countries rightful Catholic government, little wonder Orwell spent so much time in the company of ladies of dubious reputation, then marrying a far younger woman on his deathbed as well as dabbling in witchcraft as a youth.

If his book was borrowed from Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin’s similarly disturbed work We it is simply one dog eating another dog’s filth – Zamyatin was a fervent supporter of the 1918 Russian Revolution, which as true history displays was a work of slaughter.

If the same is true of Hari as of Eric Arthur Blair this is no exoneration.

14. Charlieman

Bloke reviews book in 1946. Bloke borrows themes from the book (not sentences, which was presumably read in French) and writes a popular book that is published in 1949.

Bloke acknowledges that an English translation of the original would be nice. Bloke’s letter is published 17 years after he died. Shrug.

embarrassing, bullshit argument.

@2

“Well I knew Orwell went to the same school as Cameron, and wrote positive reviews of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom – the bible of the libertarian right, but I didn’t know he was a plagiarist too. ”

The school is irrelevant. As for the review, he treats the book with his usual honesty, and reviews it together with another book from quite the opposite point of view (‘the mirror of the past’ by K Zilliacus). He agrees with a lot of Hayek’s critique, but doesn’t agree with his solution. If you expect Orwell to denounce something on party lines, you know nothing of him.

As for the notion that he plagiarised ‘Them’; rubbish. There are some similarities in plot, but they are also very different. ‘Them’ is closer to ‘Brave New World’ in its description on a future dystopia (by our standards). If someone wants to claim Orwell nicked the idea, why don’t they say he nicked it from Huxley? Maybe because everyone knows the Huxley book, so it wouldn’t stick for two seconds. What next? That he nicked the plot for ‘Animal Farm’ from the history of the Soviet Union?

@5 It is indeed laughable that anyone should try to equate the flow of ideas in fiction to plagiarism from a journalist who claims to be reporting facts.

In this case though, the joke appears to be on Mr Packman and Mr Hundal.

18. Red Snapper

@14.

Ahhh. I see you have a malfunction in your irony circuit.

A dab of solder here… a new fusewire there… that should fix it.

19. punksocks

It’s a bit much to say ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is a rip off of ‘We’. Orwell followed in Zamyatin’s footsteps, developed the genre Zamyatin established. There was never any pretence by Orwell that ‘We’ didn’t exist or that it didn’t influence Orwell. Art is like that – people influence each other. I get what you’re saying about Hari, but calling Orwell a plagiarist doesn’t help that case when it is untrue.

20. Mr S. Pill

If this piece is meant as a joke then I retract my comments, just a bit fed up of seeing otherwise respectable writers and blogs standing up for Hari (admittedly elsewhere online).

‘Orwell sucks on his twentieth Woodbine. Smoke wreathes his cadaverous face. “So Animal Farm made me unpopular with the Stalinist left? Well, liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people something they don’t want to hear.”‘

From an interview by Johann Hari

In this case though, the joke appears to be on Mr Packman and Mr Hundal.

Oooh, I’m crying already.

@16 lol – it’s hard to guess sometimes. Never mind, I enjoyed digging out the reviews of the books in question.

@CharlieWheeler #3

You laugh, but how much do we really hear from Shakespeare’s contemporaries?

@Ben #7

You may think it different, but it is more than simple influence. Look at The Table in We (resemblance to the telescreen in 1984) or the Benefactor (resemblance to Big Brother) – these are rather too close to be called influences, there is direct lifting and changing words going on here. Both Orwell and Hari have flouted the writers’ ethics, but it happens. It shouldn’t, but it does, Hari has apologised and he shouldn’t lose his Orwell Prize – which was my original point

p.s. I haven’t defended the actions.

Johann’s been a bit quite the last few days. He must have something new due out soon.
Poor bloke, he’s kind of done for, but not as bad as that woman who tweeted about the dead gap year students.

@22

“Both Orwell and Hari have flouted the writers’ ethics”

Orwell flouted nothing. You’re being absurd. The books are very different.1984 is influenced by many things, and no doubt the Russian book was one of them, as was his experiences in the BBC (Room 101), propaganda during the Spanish Civil War, watching the growth of fascism and stalinism etc etc. I suppose the name Oceana to come from James Harrington’s book. So what? This is not flouting anything.

I don’t give a monkey’s about Hari, but slagging off Orwell for something he didn’t do will not help.

27. Robin Levett

@Sunnya Hundal #5:

“I swear no one can take a joke in this place.”

Could you remind Carl he’s supposed to have written a joke piece? (see #22)

28. Paul Newman

@CharlieWheeler #3

You laugh, but how much do we really hear from Shakespeare’s contemporaries?

Oh dear oh dear… Donne Jonson , Marlowe …all the detectives really ,Sidney , Spenser … it was a golden age of literary achievement

The humour is very very dry.

Personally I think it would have been better if you’d taken this from “Though Cowards Flinch” and passed it off as an interview with Carl Packman by Johann Hari.

I STILL don’t understand why people think Hari did anything wrong?? Genuinely, I don’t get it.

Yes, yes, joke. But to take it seriously for a moment…..

1984 and We are not all that similar in plot. They are very similar in the background to the plot. The screen, the Benefactor etc. The scenario if you like, rather than the actual storyline.

Which isn’t all that odd really, given that they were both dystopias about Stalinism.

Both Primo Levi and Robert Harris have the Holocaust in their writings about Nazi Germany…..it’s part of the scenario of the story that needs to be there.

Did Hari falsify what his interviewee said? If he did, and a great many journalists have mispresented people by omission, selection or wilful misinterpretation, and got away with it, then he deserves this avalanche of criticism (which evidently pleases the anti socialist or two). If he didn’t, then perhaps there is a lack of proportion in the reaction.

33. Paul Newman

Over lunch ,Mr. Packman was unapologetic to the point of insouciance …
“Look mate “, he said , waving his glass of Pinot to illustrate the generosity of his vision …
“Man writes amazing words. Man wins prize for writing amazing words…. “
I try to suggest but they were not true , but Packman crashes through the thickets of quibble bellowing …
“This is an account of George Orwell”
He smiles at my evident confusion….. I ask if he is seriously defending Hari
“I think it’s wrong” he admits ruefully but goes on to contradict himself by claiming …” it is part of the furniture for writing. We only have to look at Orwell himself …”
Overall Packman struck me as a confused and silly man but the lunch was good and I promise you it all sounded convincing after a few glasses in the sun

The End

What Paul Newman said ^

(Noting lack of humour as ingrained on the far-ish right as on the far-ish left)

Having re read this piece several times, perhaps someone could explain where the humour comes into it? Because I can’t see any indication at all that the piece is not meant to be taken seriously. There’s not even a “” at the end.

Hari’s crime is not so different. I can believe he nicked an excerpt from a book to clarify a quote during an interview – I think it’s wrong, but I can believe it – and he has since apologised.

Leaving aside the side-splitting humour of this piece, this isn’t the main thing that Hari is being accused of. He’s accused of pretending that things said to other interviewers were in fact said to him. Lifting quotes from other journalists, to make himself look better. And he hasn’t even acknowledged this, as far as I am aware, let alone apologised.

Did Hari falsify what his interviewee said?

No, he didn’t. Nobody has produced any evidence of this, although a lot of people are pretending that this is what Hari has done.

If he did, and a great many journalists have mispresented people by omission, selection or wilful misinterpretation, and got away with it, then he deserves this avalanche of criticism (which evidently pleases the anti socialist or two). If he didn’t, then perhaps there is a lack of proportion in the reaction.

Yes, there is. Although then again, a large part of the overreaction is due to the disproportionate levels of fame and success Hari had achieved relative to his journalistic ability.

The opportunity for right-wingers to kick the left, coupled with the left’s endearing tendency to kick itself repeatedly in the head and join in with any right-wing hate mob that’s going (see also: Miliband on strikes), is also an important driver. Ruskin @12 is an excellent satire on the commentators taking this angle.

FFS can we PLEASE mark ***SPOILERS*** clearly?

40. Shatterface

‘With his embrace of self-styled anarchists in the Spanish civil war against the countries rightful Catholic government, little wonder Orwell spent so much time in the company of ladies of dubious reputation, then marrying a far younger woman on his deathbed as well as dabbling in witchcraft as a youth.’

Every word you wrote made me love Orwell more.

‘1984 and We are not all that similar in plot. They are very similar in the background to the plot. The screen, the Benefactor etc. The scenario if you like, rather than the actual storyline.’

Science fiction, of which I am a huge fan, is densely intertextual. There are a limited number of SF tropes but the ‘dialogue’ SF has with itself is what adds to its richness.

Orwell was one of the few Leftists brave enough to recognise the State is inherently oppressive (hence his friendship with the anarchist, George Woodcock, with whom Orwell began corresponding following criticisms Woodcock had made of his work)

Well, I’ll bite, since even though Sunny says this is a hilarious joke, not to be taken seriously, I spent a good half hour discussing it with Carl on twitter and he didn’t give me the impression he was joking at all.

First of all, Carl gets plot elements of both 1984 and We wrong. To take just one example, in We D-503 begins writing a to celebrate the launch of the Integral, not because he’s encouraged to by I-330, while Winston Smith writes a diary well before he gets a note from Julia, and isn’t encouraged to do so by her. The roles of Julia and i-330 are very different in both books. I-330 is a revolutionary, Julia shows little interest in the debates of the party – her revolution is personal.

Then there’s the tiny, minor plot differences. We is set somewhere around 600 years in the future. D-503 sets out to glorify the One state, but is subverted by his (to him) savage desires. Smith hates Big Brother from almost first page of book). There’s a revolution in one book, not in the other. There are no proles, no outer, no inner party, in We, the One state is truly and terrifyingly egalitarian. there’s an enormous spaceship in one, an ongoing war with rival powers in the other. Little things like that.

But ultimately the biggest theme difference between them is the society itself. The One State is terrifying because it apparently works, on it’s own terms. The world of 1984 is terrifying because it is clearly decayed, failing, and yet able to function by oppressing its citizens.

Carl seems to think these two books, which are utterly different in style, in tone, in theme (More examples: ‘We” obsesses over savagery – which is represented by hairyness, We is obsessed by mathematics,1984 by words) are basically the same.

They are not, and even a passing acquaintance with either book would make that obvious. Though I may have missed, for example, the giant spaceship Winston is building in 1984.

If you are to claim, or to hint, or imply that 1984 is plagiarised from We, just because they explore similar themes, It strike me that you’re also claiming, say, that Cormac McCarthy plagiarised the road from PD James Children of Men, who in turn must have plagiarised John Christopher’s Death of Grass. (All three share the same basic plot – environmental/scientific disaster leads to complete collapse of society, man goes on journey across said society to find place that represent hope – bad stuff happens).

This is laughable. That similar fictional subjects cover similar themes is not plagiarism.

What’s really depressing is that Carl then doesn’t stop at the tenuous idea that dystopian fiction explores similar themes is in some way bad – he accuses Orwell of _actual_ plagiarism.

Carl says “We discover that man’s words are stolen from another man’s book” meaning Orwell stole words from Zamyatin as Hari stole words from (again to take one example) the Newsweek &New Yorker reporters whose Chavez quotes “found their way” into Johann’s copy.

For Orwell, This is not true. You will not find a sentence lifted from We in 1984. Orwell did not steal words from Zamyatin. It did not happen.

On twitter, I’ve asked Carl to find a single example of Orwell doing what he claims in this post (using “stolen” words), and he has consistently responded that what he really means is that Orwell borrowed themes and concepts from We.

This is a) Not what his blog post says b) Not in any way plagiarism c) Only true at a kind of schoolboy “the Benefactor is a bit like Big Brother” way, ignoring the many, many ways they differ (like for example, we know the Benefactor exists, while the strange ahuman unreality of BB is part of the threat and point of 1984).

I apologise for the length of this comment, but when you feel a post is misleading on so many levels, it takes more effort to try to explain why than it does to dash off an unsupported accusation of plagiarism.

Hopi,

I didn’t get those plot elements wrong when we spoke about them, plus I said repeatedly Orwell borrowed the bones and changed the words; from what he has said himself I don’t think this is a controversial point. My point is writers borrow stuff (words, ideas), and though there are differences between the two examples here, they still flout what we can crassly call writers’ ethics, for which it would be silly to remove an award for.

Where I’ve used tongue-in-cheek is to draw, or imply, moral equivalence – what Hari did and what Orwell has done are not the same, but Hari has grovelled to/through the press and his support base, and it seems slightly absurd that the Orwell Prize are investigating their award. We all need to move on from this I think.

plus I said repeatedly Orwell borrowed the bones and changed the words

Well, that’s not what you’re saying here is it?

Man writes amazing words. Man wins prize for writing amazing words. We later find out that man’s words are stolen from another man’s book.

The distinction between writing a book drawing on the same concepts and ideas as another book and writing an article that cuts and pastes chunks of text from another article is the distinction between taking water out of the same well, and taking it out of the same bucket.

It’s rather ironic that I only cited the Great Lobachevsky a few days ago on here. Because he does seem to have been something of a role model for young Johann.

“My point is writers borrow stuff (words, ideas), and though there are differences between the two examples here, they still flout what we can crassly call writers’ ethics,”

Writers who recycle plots and ideas are just being writers. All writers do that, so that is not ‘flouting writers’ ethics’. Ideas and themes are common currency among writers. They share them. What sets them apart from each other, what makes them good or bad writers, is how they arrange the material and the actual style of words they put it all into. Writers who simply lift stuff verbatim en masse, by contrast, are plagiarists. Orwell took nothing from the style of Zamyatin, and not a single word.

Hari, by contrast, lazily cut and pasted large chunks of texts found elsewhere, either in the books of his interviewees or in interviews conducted by far more skilled interviewers who actually know how to elicit a good quote. The fact that the interviewees haven’t complained is neither here nor there. Hari has perpetrated a repeated and widescale deception on his readers, and also cheated other (actually skilled) interviewers by taking and reproducing the fruit of their interview efforts, word for word and unacknowledged, in order to portray himself as being a great interviewer who gets great quotes. He doesn’t. He’s a shit interviewer and a plagiarist.

“We all need to move on from this I think.”

translation: “I made a complete cock-up of a last ditch attempt to defend Hari, and I wish I had never written this article.”

40 Carl. You got them wrong in the post. Neither Winston nor D-503 “is encouraged by female companion to write down thoughts of rebellion”. Winston starts writing them himself. D-503 finds his intended paean to the One State is subverted by his encounters with I-330. I mention this because it suggests a basic lack of familiarity with the texts you think are plagiarised.

As you say, you repeatedly said on Twitter that Orwell “borrowed the bones and changed the words”. He didn’t really (more below) but to this point that’s irrelevant. In _this_ post you say Orwell’s words are “stolen from another man’s book” I’m saying that’s not true. If you can’t back it up, you should withdraw it.

As for the “borrowed the bones” charge, if it can be called that, it fails to take account of the huge differences between the two. Aside from all the things I’ve mentioned before (huge Spaceship being built by lead character, anyone?) there’s this major plot driving differential. D-503 is a naif, who wants to adore the One State, but finds himself subverted by outsiders, which sparks something within him that disturbs and excites him.

Winston, on the other hand, hates Big Brother from almost the first page of the book. the story of We is a story of D-503’s struggle against recognition of the nature of the One State, with D-503 as an almost helpless observer of an attempted revolution, D-503 is constantly trying to repress his inner savage, right to the end, trapped in an underground toilet with a lunatic babbling about the finite nature of the Universe.

The story of 1984 is that of the failure and inablilty of Smith to find an effective way to rebel, he hates Big Brother, ans seeks out revolution, losing in the process, the revolution he and Julia start together. Is there a Brotherhood? Is there even a Big Brother? We don’t know. we just know there is O’Brien, and room 101, and that is enough.

As for the ending, I’d argue it owes far more to “Darkness at noon” than “We”. O/Brien is much closer to a terrifying Ivanov/Gletkin combination than to anyone in “we” (in fact, there’s no-one in “we” who performs that role. The guardian who D-503 visits at the end is ambiguous). Neither is “stolen’ though. Like R-13 and Rutherford, they at most creatively distorted reflections. Hints of hints of lineages, recreated in different places, different times in different situations and ways. O’Brien is neither Ivanov or Gletkin, but some distillation, the ultimate friend/patron/betrayer/torturer/cynic. He is a creation of Orwell’s and so is the plot of 1984.

Callum,

My intentions are clear, I haven’t defended anything, I’ve said that borrowing happens, in some cases it’s wrong, in some cases no one cares, but is it worth organisations withdrawing somebody’s award for? No. At this point I say we should move on, but I’m not throwing my towel in, I can repeat what I’ve just said until the cows come home.

46. carl

Making an accusation, being completely unable to stand it up or defend it, and then saying people should “move on” when you are challenged is one of the most pathetic tricks in the hacks book.

If you can’t defend your charges, I suggest you don’t make them.

50. Red Snapper

Carl and Sunny are clearly unaware that there are only a limited number of plots available to a writer.

I remember reading about a meeting between Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens where Dickens showed Poe the first couple of chapters of Barnaby Rudge, and, after reading them, Poe then told a surprised Dickens the rest of the story – Poe was an expert in literary form.

There is a gulf between using a plot, and lifting words.

There is an even wider gulf between copying plots or even lifting words in fiction – the latter of which which MAY sometimes be justified, and lifting words to add into an interview.

Oh well, an inability to understand this may go some way to explaining why the left seems to tie itself up in knots continually.

Pity that!

Look at what I said Hopi, I said we should all move on from the Hari affair, I’m not saying we shouldn’t have this discussion, nor am I saying we need to move on from this thread. The thrust of my piece is saying it is pure silliness to withdraw Hari’s award, they should move on – he has apologised, what he did was wrong, he’ll be under close tab from now on.

As for Orwell, the great thing about Big Brother is its existence is secondary to the amount of control it asserts. There are differences, no one is denying that, but I’m saying that Orwell borrowed generously from We, possibly other books too, the themes share striking resemblance, you’ve agreed on this point, its a non-controversial statement to make, what Hari and Orwell did is different, my drawing equivalence was made tongue-in-cheek, but my point is to borrow from others is a done thing in writing, are we over-egging here with Hari? Yes, should we move on from the Hari thing already? Yes we should.

“I’ve said that borrowing happens, in some cases it’s wrong, in some cases no one cares”

Yes, but you appear not to understand what plagiarism is, and the fact that recycling themes and plots is not plagiarism. Plagiarism is not borrowing, it is theft.

“but is it worth organisations withdrawing somebody’s award for?”

“Withdraw an award for a supposedly great interviewer who is found to have plagiarised most of his memorable quotes and large chunks of the interviews besides that? Yes, I’d say so.

OK Carl, I’ll happily move on when you either

a) Produce some actual evidence that Orwell did steal words from another man’s book.

b) Withdraw the allegation he did

Until then, I’m afraid I have to conclude that you are conducting a depressingly last ditch defence of an untenable position by trying to throw in as many diversions as you can.

54. Jimmy Cliff

I’m still trying to work out what the joke was. Can anyone help with this?

Man writes amazing words. Man wins prize for writing amazing words. We later find out that man’s words are stolen from another man’s book. You may think I’m referring to Johann Hari, but in actual fact this is an account of George Orwell.

Actually it’s a serious charge to bring against a dead writer that they stole words from another man’s book. @46 you change the stealing to borrowing. “Stealing” and “borrowing” are quite different activities in ordinary life. Could you change the first paragraph? Or do you realise the analogy you’ve written is nonsense?

I can’t remember anything of We, which I found very boring. However, I would trust Hopi’s account of it. So you can’t give any words that Orwell “stole” and that he “borrowed” ideas and themes doesn’t seem to be true either – except for the very general theme of a dystopia. Which is like saying that Conan Doyle stole off Wilkie Collins because both writers wrote detective stories.

So therefore Hari “stole” words (which he did – from other interviewers as well as his interviewees’ books) and Orwell didn’t.

BTW the hue and cry after Hari would be more likely to run out of steam if his supporters would stop defending him so badly.

A further point is that Hari has dramatically undermined his own credibility as a journalist. A couple of articles I remember involve quite dramatic and slightly incredible stories – his successful seduction of six foot, muscly straight neo-Nazis and Islamists for example.

It’s a bit harder to accept that sort of story on trust now isn’t it? Pinch of wish-fulfillment perhaps? Or just a great story?

Or how about the fabulously colourful quotes he picked up on the National Review cruise a few years ago – you had sweet old ladies calling for liberals to be sent to the gas chambers, and a bearded Floridian saying that all Latinos look the same. It made for great copy – but it all looks a bit too perfect now. That amy be unfair, and he may have recordings or notes taken at the time to stand these stories up. But it would hardly be inconsistent if he’d just made them up would it?

57. Charlieman

Whatever happened to Raj Persaud?

“As I said during the hearing, I accept that my use of the work of some authors lacked adequate acknowledgement. I have apologised repeatedly for this during the hearing, and I apologise for this now. I am saddened that this occurred while I was seeking to promote the work of academics to the wider public.”

This piece is clearly a joke in that the author doesn’t understand the definition of plagiarism.

Lifting words from another’s work without crediting them as Hari did is plagiarism.

Borrowing themes or ideas from another work is not plagiarism.

The Orwell Prize should certainly withdraw Hari’s award. The two events Packman has tried to draw a parallel between aren’t comparable in the slightest.

There is a world of difference between authors using the same basic theme (e.g the classic fantasy story of a hero and a group of companions on a quest through a magical world) and a so-called journalist stealing other people’s work verbatim and passing it off as his own and being paid to do it at the same time. The former is the sharing of tropes. The latter is downright theft.

Oh and furthermore, grovelling to try to save some kind of reputation for yourself is a far cry from humbly accepting that you’ve misled the public and your publications and that you understand you’re firmly in the wrong.

This sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable for journalists. While I’m sure it happens a lot more than we realise, to reward when it is called out seems absolutely bonkers to me.

61. JockHigh

Ah, the old bar-bully tongue-in-cheek humour trick of insulting someone then accusing them of not being able to take a joke when they complain.

Hari lifted other journalists’ quotes wholly and failed to acknowledge them. His groveling apology did not acknowledge this a hari kiri indeed (sorry). Whether he makes such a full and honest apology now is probably irrelevant – nobody will ever trust him again.

Can anyone imagine Hari in a live debate with anyone, especially a right-winger like Kelvin McKenzie, and not be pummeled for this at every single opportunity?

It’s been instructive seeing the apologists for Hari prepared to sacrifice honesty for ideology. Shame on them. I’d like to see a list of Hari defenders and Hari accusers (right wingers excluded) for my future reference.

Ah well, if Richard Littlejohn and others are any indication Mr Hari should soon be making fuck-loads of money writing things that have little to do with the truth. Good for him I guess.

It’s a bit harder to accept that sort of story on trust now isn’t it? Pinch of wish-fulfillment perhaps? Or just a great story?

This relies on the view that Hari made up quotes. Which he never.

This relies on the view that Hari made up quotes. Which he never.

It doesn’t. It relies on the view that Hari is an unreliable journalist. Which he is.

“I’d like to speak to you about Johann Hari, Mr Butler,” I began. “Frankly, my dear,” he sighed, “I don’t give a damn.”

Incidently:

Leafing through a volume of the collected essays etc of the great man, I find him, in a letter to FJ Warburg, dated 30/3/49, encouraging Warburg to publish a certain book – can you guess which?.

“… at any rate [it] ought to be re-issued by somebody. Certainly it has faults, but it seems to me to form an interesting link in the chain of Utopia books. On the one hand it debunks the super-rational, hedonistic tupe of Utopia (I think Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World must be plagiarised from it to some extent), but on the other hand it takes account of the diabolism & and the tendency to return to an earlier form of civilization which seem to be part of totalitarianism. It seems to me a good book in the same way as ‘The Iron Heel’, but better written….I just think somebody ought to print it and that it is desgraceful that a book of this kind, with its curious history as well as its intrinsic interest, should stay out of print when so much rubbish is published every day.”

Here’s an interesting letter on the subject:

http://www.driftline.org/cgi-bin/archive/archive_msg.cgi?file=spoon-archives/aut-op-sy.archive/aut-op-sy_2004/aut-op-sy.0409&msgnum=232&start=21394

I especially like the last part:

“As a footnote: I was the so-called ‘publicist’ mentioned in the
article(I work for Continuum, the publishers of ‘Time for Revolution’,
and was innvolved in organising the ICA event). A few minor, but
incorrectly reported, details that I have personal knowledge of (eg,
there was no taxi called, I didn’t say the things ascribed to me, Negri
wasn’t behaving arrogantly as suggested, there was no angry confontation
with ICA staff, etc) casts serious doubt on the veracity of anything
that Hari says.”

Ouch.

68. punksocks

i can’t believe you still have this article up. it is plainly untrue that ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is a plagiarised ‘We’. you should put this in a novel and call it fabricated fantasy, at least then you wouldn’t look like a tosser!

this article is complete and utter nonsense in every respect. i can’t believe you expect anyone to respect your publication when you’re clearly full of shite. on orwell, on hari, on ethics, on reality; the individual who wrote this and the organisation that promotes it might as well promote themselves as really enjoying the view from inside a blue bucket.

@66 are you really suggesting the article should be disappeared down the memory hole?

How chillingly Orwellian…

>Or how about the fabulously colourful quotes he picked up on the National Review cruise a few years ago – you had sweet old ladies calling for liberals to be sent to the gas chambers, and a bearded Floridian saying that all Latinos look the same. It made for great copy – but it all looks a bit too perfect now. That amy be unfair, and he may have recordings or notes taken at the time to stand these stories up. But it would hardly be inconsistent if he’d just made them up would it?

*That* was one of the one’s that won the Orwell prize.

http://theorwellprize.co.uk/shortlists/johann-hari/

Twitter is mob rule, isn’t it. All Hail King Mob. Can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Johann Hari–not a feeling that comes easily, but still, it’s brutally arbitrary. Has he been made to do a public apology live on Newsnight yet?

On the other hand, extending this level of scrutiny to (somewhat) successful journalists / broadcasters seems like the natural extension of the kill yr idols model of celebrity-worship. Can we say transference, comrades? Yes we can.

Your blog is one of a kind, i love the way you organize the topics. 😀


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  2. Darren Jalland

    The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  3. Jason Kay

    RT @libcon The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words http://t.co/j2NroNr — My respect for @Libcon is reaching a new low.

  4. sunny hundal

    George Orwell also 'borrowed' his idea for 1984 from someone else, says @CarlRaincoat wrt Johann Hari – http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  5. IndigeNati

    The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/sVsKM6v via @libcon

  6. Andrew Godwin

    The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  7. Olibhéir Ó Fearraigh

    Good Lord, the Johann Hari Support Group is really getting desperate, wheeling out this irrelevant Orwell reference: http://t.co/WOs0cO7

  8. Nick

    RT @libcon The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words http://t.co/IUvuwms

  9. Daniel Rivas

    Award for most spectacularly asinine defence of Johann Hari goes to @CarlRaincoat: http://t.co/n1yLdiz (via @sunny_hundal)

  10. Hopi Sen

    George Orwell also 'borrowed' his idea for 1984 from someone else, says @CarlRaincoat wrt Johann Hari – http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  11. Andy Bean

    The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/sVsKM6v via @libcon

  12. Alana Lentin

    And the point of this is? http://bit.ly/lAvsai #interviewsbyhari

  13. John Nor

    #wtf Hari "not so different" from George Orwell because – plot for 1984 not new. Wibble. Via @sunny_hundal @CarlRaincoat http://t.co/ZKGklNH

  14. Ali Hocine Dimerdji

    I don't get it. Plot isn't the same as verbatim sentences “@alanalentin And the point of this is? http://t.co/tg2WWD6 #interviewsbyhari”

  15. Didi Von Moneyheimer

    George Orwell also 'borrowed' his idea for 1984 from someone else, says @CarlRaincoat wrt Johann Hari – http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  16. cellabiao

    I don't get it. Plot isn't the same as verbatim sentences “@alanalentin And the point of this is? http://t.co/tg2WWD6 #interviewsbyhari”

  17. Jonathan Davis

    The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  18. Anthony Cox

    George Orwell also 'borrowed' his idea for 1984 from someone else, says @CarlRaincoat wrt Johann Hari – http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  19. ibbers

    parallels between Orwell and Hari RT @libcon The Orwell Prize, Johann Hari and nicking words http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  20. Hopi Sen

    @NewRedHouses ugh sorry, to this: http://ow.ly/1uiIjR

  21. Oliver Mantell

    George Orwell also 'borrowed' his idea for 1984 from someone else, says @CarlRaincoat wrt Johann Hari – http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  22. Nicola Chan

    George Orwell also 'borrowed' his idea for 1984 from someone else, says @CarlRaincoat wrt Johann Hari – http://bit.ly/kgwZ3Y

  23. Dominic Fisher

    A joke, or a botched defence by a supporter? You decide. http://bit.ly/lAvsai #interviewsbyhari

  24. Dominic Fisher

    A joke, or a botched defence by a supporter? You decide. http://bit.ly/lAvsai #interviewsbyhari

  25. SOCIALIST UNITY » JOHANN HARI AND THE ETHICS OF JOURNALISM

    […] is worth while drawing attention to the most ridiculoous defence of Hari from Carl Packman. To paraphrase Carl, because Shakespeare was inspired by Holinshed’s Chronicles for the […]

  26. Hopi Sen

    Lunchtime OCD: Someone is wrong on t'internet. I can't help but intervene. It's about Orwell.. read piece, then comments http://t.co/HdFqiRX

  27. Hopi Sen

    Lunchtime OCD: Someone is wrong on t'internet. I can't help but intervene. It's about Orwell.. read piece, then comments http://t.co/HdFqiRX

  28. Joseph Richards

    I don't get this. @sunny_hundal says it's a joke, but it's not funny? A complete car-crash of a defence.
    http://t.co/MCsZG9h

  29. Luisa-Elena Lopez

    @Gavhollander Thoughts? http://t.co/rkNUl5E

  30. Damian Thompson

    @sunny_hundal This disgusting piece, for example. http://t.co/2HUyOfX3





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