Plagiarism, as I’ve told you a million times, is a boring, endemic affair — so endemic, in most of the world, that it’s only mentioned at the very tippy-top. Prime Minister, President, King, Pope, Archbishop, Star Of Stage and Screen – maybe someone will try to make something of that. But probably not. Probably not even that. Plagiarism is a non-event, like graft.

There’s still a tiny slice of the world – the US, Europe, Australia – where people actually seem to give a shit if intellectuals and scientists and artists plagiarize. They seem to think there’s something wrong with stealing someone else’s work – ideas, creative vision, words – and passing it off as one’s own.

Piles and piles of plagiarism go unperceived — there’s so much of it — but on a regular basis some idiot performs such prolific and high-profile copying that it’s not only discovered. It becomes a story.

Such is the ongoing saga of novelist John Hughes, who at this writing has, in his latest novel, plagiarized from F Scott Fitzgerald, Svetlana Alexievich, Tolstoy, Remarque, Eric Newby, WB Sebald, Amos Oz, Loren Eiseley, Saul Bellow, and Nadezhda Mandel’shtam. You and I know that still lurking in his pages are… Let’s see. He seems to like angst-ridden early/mid twentieth century fiction tossed with a petit goût of global conflict … Look for Thomas Mann, for goodness sake, and Günter Grass and Iris Murdoch for starters… If there aren’t some decoupled Auden couplets somewhere in there my name ain’t University Diaries

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