‘Trust breached’: Publisher distances himself from author John Hughes amid plagiarism claims

The publisher of John Hughes’ 2021 book The Dogs has said her trust has been violated by the author after it was found the novel contained sections nearly identical to excerpts from the Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina, and the nonfiction work of a Nobel laureate. .

In a statement posted on Upswell Publishing’s website on Fridaysaid Terri-ann White, while her “impulse is always to assist my author”, she was offended by a line he wrote in a piece justifying his work, published yesterday by the Guardian: “I wanted the appropriated passages were seen and recognized as in a collage.”

In that piece, Hughes said, “I’ve always used the work of other writers for my own work. It’s a rare writer who doesn’t.” He denied plagiarism, saying the word was “a great simplification” of the process of “an allusive writer” who “has always spoken through the voices of others…I’ve made no secret of this.” It is there for everyone to see.”

Hughes acknowledged that as the book changed form, he didn’t take notes about which parts were based on which work, “so many of the sources became so integrated that I began to consider them my own”.

“I’m not a thief…I wanted the appropriated passages [in The Dogs] to be seen and recognized as in a collage,” he wrote. “But somewhere in the writing my idea shifted, as did the focus.”

An investigation by Guardian Australia found 58 similarities and identical instances of lyrics between parts of The Dogs and the 2017 English translation of Belarusian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s nonfiction work The Unwomanly Face of War. Alexievich was not credited in his book.

Hughes apologized to Alexievich and her translators last week for using their words without acknowledgment “without realizing I did that”.

The book was subsequently withdrawn from the longlist of Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklinbefore writer Shannon Burns and academic Emmett Stinson tweet more excerpts from The Dogs that appeared to have been borrowed without credit from classic texts like The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina and All Quiet on the Western Front

When the first revelations were published by the Guardian on June 9, White said she “stands steadfastly with the author”, recognizing that “creativity can get confused when making a long work…I’m just sorry that I did not recognize these borrowed descriptions.”

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In a post on Upswell’s website on June 17, the publisher appeared to have changed its mind.

“The events of the past two weeks in the media and amplified on social media have been both personally disturbing and worrisome for my new publishing house,” she wrote, noting that she has worked with John Hughes on four books before The Dogs.

“While I’ve read most of the books that have now been revealed to have been quoted without citation in The Dogs, I honestly didn’t recognize them in any new text,” she said. ‘It’s a matter of trust, I think. I was offended when John Hughes wrote in his reply to The Guardian yesterday: ‘I wanted the appropriated passages to be seen and recognized as in a collage.’”

White added that she has “published many writers who use collage and bricolage and other approaches to weave in other voices and materials,” but most often they cite the original text. “I should have pushed John Hughes harder for his lack of the standard book confirmation method, keeping all credits to other writers (with permission or otherwise), and thanks to those closest to them,” she said.

“It would have been the only way to treat it. I now acknowledge this as a breach of my trust.

“Upswell relies on credibility and trust. That has been damaged these two weeks and I am trying to reaffirm my position. I am currently seriously considering my options. This will take time to untangle the mess.”

On Friday, Hughes said he was “very sorry” that he had put White in a difficult situation.

“In my piece on influences, I was never meant to imply that I knowingly passed on other writers’ words before my own,” said Hughes. “I’ve only tried to clarify as far as I can how such a thing could happen to a fiction writer.

“Terri-ann White has been a staunch supporter for many years and is a person of great integrity.

“I am deeply saddened to think that her reputation could be tarnished in any way as a result of my actions. Small publishers are critical to our industry.”

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