Plagiarism Scandal, Part Deux: Is a New French Celeb Hemingway Bio Bogus?

In What's the Buzz by Olivia Snaije

by Olivia Snaije

PARIS: Plagiarism is the name of the game in France right now. After the brouhaha last September about 2010 Prix Goncourt-winner Michel Houellebecq stealing passages from Wikipedia for his novel, now a celebrity TV presenter, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, known in France as PPDA, has been accused by l’Express magazine of lifting up to a fourth of his new biography on Ernest Hemingway from a previously published book by American author Peter Griffin, who died in 2002.

PPDA, a television news presenter for over 30 years and a successful writer, has bounced back several times from scandals, including faking an interview with Fidel Castro in 1991 and receiving proceeds from embezzled funds which resulted in a hefty fine and a suspended prison sentence in 1996.

Editions Arthaud, an imprint of Flammarion, is said to have already printed 20,000 copies of PPDA’s Hemingway, la vie jusqu’à l’excès due to launch January 19. The article in the newsmagazine l’Express which hit the newsstands today and was available online January 4, shows four examples of the lifted passages from Peter Griffin’s biography, Along with Youth: Hemingway, The Early Years, published by Oxford University Press in 1985 and by OUP USA in 1987. Griffin published a second volume of the biography in 1990, entitled Less Than a Treason: Hemingway in Paris.

Gallimard published Griffin’s first book, translated by Michel Arnaud in 1989 and says it still owns the French rights. PPDA is said to have used the French version. The passages published by l’Express leave little doubt about the original source. L’Express added that Griffin’s book is not included in PPDA’s 63-book bibliography, and is merely mentioned in the notes.

Contacted by l’Express, PPDA said he had spent a year and a half writing the book and found the accusations of plagiarism offensive.

Arthaud issued a press release saying that the printed text that had been distributed to the press in December was a mistake and merely a draft that hadn’t yet been approved by the author. L’Express immediately countered by publishing a photograph of a signed copy of the published book by PPDA to the director of l’Express magazine, Christophe Barbier.

Meanwhile the news has spread in the French press like wildfire, with jokes about for whom the bell will toll abounding.

About the Author

Olivia Snaije

Olivia Snaije is a journalist and editor based in Paris who writes about translation, literature, graphic novels, the Middle East, and multiculturalism. She is the author of three books and has contributed to newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Global Post, and The New York Times.