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Haunting the CEO Kindle Edition
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About the author
John d. hughes.
John D. Hughes was born in Aspen, CO in 1962, but unfortunately life in the Rockies was short-lived. His parents moved the family to Greenville, OH in 1967, where John grew up, went to college, and spent 20 years of his career, mostly in Columbus, OH. John finally returned to the mountains in 2003 when he moved his own family to the Seattle area and the beautiful Pacific Northwest. He has written and published two books, as well as articles on LinkedIn and other publications. John began his career as a computer operator and computer programmer in the early 1980s, followed by roles in IT management and eventually CIO (Chief Information Officer). He launched his independent consulting business, GrowthWave, in 2005, which focused on interim CIO and strategic IT consulting. He launched his executive IT/CIO search business, Gnu Talent, in 2016. John and his wife live on a small farm in Western WA. He continues to write and serve his executive search clients via Gnu Talent.
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First book:, latest book:, author rating:, book list in order: 20 titles.
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Bright Bewildering Green is a vivid, harrowing tale - told from the emotional security of middle age - of an impoverished childhood in rural Northern Ireland during the 1950s and early '60s. In its detailed evocation of the realities of life for an o...
Seven-year-old Kevin McAllister is left behind when his family goes to France for Christmas vacation, and the precocious boy must defend the homestead from two burglars who have invaded the neighborhood...
As the title of this book implies - "Sally Figment.. " This book consists of > Serio-Comic Figments... With outstretched minds and non truths, including, Mythology, Fairy Tales, 'Horror and Three (D) and fourth dimensional scenarios, Fabrications and...
The Remnants is a novel about legacy and influence. The central story deals with exile, memory, and loss, as well as a son's terrible desire to exorcise the past and recreate himself. A manuscript written by an Australian art historian is discovered ...
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No name is so frequently invoked in Wales as that of Owain Glyndwr, a figurehead of Welsh nationalism, and the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales. This novel is a fictional account of the life and times of Gwenllian, Owain's daugh...
In this book, fourteen mesmerizing fables - and the etchings they inspired - draw us back to our origins in a garden of sorrow and exile, death and renewal, beauty and melancholy. John Hughes re-imagines a series of fables in which Australian animals...
Ten-year-old Michael can hardly believe his eyes when his cast-net accidentally surfaces with a baby manatee in it. Michael and his Dad rush into the water to assist the baby manatee who, to their complete amazement, is able to talk to them....
Seven year old Jon-Jon has an incredible gift of being able to surf almost any wave that confronts him at his home in Saint Augustine Beach, Florida. Jon-Jon is soon the youngest competitive surfer ever to reach the East Coast Surfing Finals in Virgi...
Set in medieval Wales in the final years of the reign of Prince Llewelyn, the Last Welsh Prince, our heroine Beth finds herself at the heart of the political intrigue and in-fighting at Llewelyn's court.The prince has many enemies, not just the formi...
A novel set in the period of the reign of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn (1039-63). He was a violent, determined man who became the undisputed King of all Wales. The story follows the life of Elen who, against her will, becomes embroiled with this most powerfu...
'Just because you can't see the chains doesn't mean they don't exist.' In the Sanctuary, two robed men cut the hair of clients who have been called to pass through the White or Black Door. Along with their hair, the clients shed stories: of the horro...
Summer 1940 - Great Britain is in grave peril. With the ‘phoney' war turning into a very real war on the ground and in the air, Hitler's troops storm across an unprepared Europe towards the English Channel. Invasion looms. But the British have a we...
A set of intriguing tales of our time - some dark and challenging, others light and quirky.The title story tells of a young piano salesman in Harrods who comes across a Bechstein grand in storage that appears to have been neglected. Would anyone miss...
John Hughes enters deep into the world of his imagination, giving voice to the twenty-one writers and artists who have left their traces there. In story-like essays written in the style of his heroes, the effect is like ventriloquy....
Young Darnell Rabren is lost and confused in Mississippi, and he and his friend, Judson, are on an epic quest to discover the meaning of life. Darnell knows a lot, but there's a lot he doesn't know, and his misadventures with Judson across the swa...
*Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2020* In the ghost hours of a Monday morning a man feels a dull thud against the side of his car near the entrance to Redfern Station. He doesn't stop immediately. By the time he returns to the scene...
‘The story of a life is a secret as life itself. A life that can be explained is no life at all.’ Elias Canetti Is it possible to write about the living without thinking of them as already dead? Michael Shamanov is a man running away fr...
Across the Misty Midlands of Central Ireland dwells a magical race. Hidden from plain sight these creatures inhabit the bogs and forests evading the human eye and technology to the present day. This tale centres in and around the town land of Ballina...
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Who doesn’t dream of finding the love of their life? Lonely, quirky Oliver Birch certainly does, and he knows who she is. He’s adored her from afar for thirty years. But there’s a problem. Joanna is happily married to somebody else. Then, one d...
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Literary experts find John Hughes’ plagiarism defence unconvincing
Scholars respond to author’s explanation for his new book appearing to copy some parts of classic texts
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Literary academics have taken the Australian author John Hughes to task for apparently copying extracts from some classic texts including The Great Gatsby in parts of his new book, The Dogs.
On Thursday Guardian Australia published a 1,700-word article by Hughes in which he gave his explanation for why some extracts from F Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front had made their way into his novel. Guardian Australia has cross-referenced all the similarities between Hughes’ work and sections from those classic texts and found some cases in which whole sentences were identical or where just one word had changed.
That revelation followed just days after the Guardian revealed similarities between the Sydney writer’s book and a 2017 English translation of the non-fiction work The Unwomanly Face of War by the Nobel Prize laureate Svetlana Alexievich .
When asked about the similarities, Hughes wrote: “I don’t think I am a plagiarist more than any other writer who has been influenced by the greats who have come before them.”
He pointed to TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, which he said “is itself a kind of anthology of the great words of others. Does this make Eliot a plagiarist? Not at all, it seems. You take, that is, and make something else out of it; you make it your own.
“I’ve always used the work of other writers in my own. It’s a rare writer who doesn’t … It’s a question of degree.”
The Guardian turned to a number of academics to ask about Hughes’ claims and while some expressed admiration of the author’s literary talent, others did not support his justifications.
“It not a cause for moral panic ... but whether it’s conscious, unconscious or subconscious, it’s certainly something that I’m personally against,” said Monash University’s senior lecturer in creative writing and literary studies, Dr Ali Alizadeh.
Tom Doig, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Queensland, said: “It seems like Mr Hughes was keeping his cake last week, and he’s decided to eat it this week.”
Last week Hughes responded to initial allegations saying the similarities were inadvertent and regrettable. He issued a public apology to Alexievich and her translators.
On Wednesday, the Guardian revealed that The Dogs also contained passages similar to sections from other famous works of fiction, including The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina and All Quiet on the Western Front.
This time, Hughes claimed the similarities were intentional, arguing that artists had been recycling, reimagining and rewriting stories since time immemorial. It’s not what you take, he argued, but what you do with it that counts.
Hughes quoted TS Eliot in his defence, saying that in the poet’s The Sacred Wood he wrote: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.”
Hughes argued: “That great centrepiece of modernism, The Wasteland, is itself a kind of anthology of the great words of others. Does this make Eliot a plagiarist?”
Well, no, says Doig – because Eliot included footnotes .
“I think what’s really weird about this situation is that when the story broke last week, there was this whole elaborate ‘oh, I did it by mistake, whoops … and now he’s completely pivoted, now he’s saying it’s all purposeful, it’s modernism, it’s part of the great canon.
“Can you accidentally sample and purposefully sample at the same time? I’m sure you can. Maybe he did. But that strikes me as quite an odd place to land.”
Dr Alyson Miller, a senior lecturer at Deakin University’s school of communication and creative arts, told the Guardian that Hughes’ Eliot defence was “a wobbly argument” and his argument overall didn’t ring true.
“There’s no acknowledgement that this is part of the writer’s creative process in any form,” she said.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean filling a book with footnotes or citations, but there’s been no contextual conversation around using other writers as a source in any of the discussions around the novel.”
Hughes’ Eliot defence was “not good”, according to Alizadeh, but the writer’s apparent borrowing of extracts from The Great Gatsby is just as troubling, if not more so.
“There is a question of the uniqueness of a phrase when we’re talking about prose fiction,” he said. “Passages and entire paragraphs where they seem to be lifted from existing works of fiction, then I think yes, it is a problem.”
Prof Kimberlee Weatherall from the University of Sydney law school said it was impossible to get inside an author’s head to judge the level of awareness when copying another’s work.
“I have no comment on whether it’s a case of sloppy writing practice and record-keeping or something else,” she said.
“Certainly there are matters of degree in plagiarism. Artists do, often, build on what has come before. But there’s a big difference between reworking classic stories or classic literature and copying passages word for word. Whether you are talking about plagiarism, or copyright, word-for-word copying – or near that – would normally be considered beyond the pale.”
The University of Sydney creative writing lecturer Dr Toby Fitch, who is also the poetry editor for Overland, said Hughes’ claims of “collage” and “palimpsest” could have been interesting, if he’d made them a point of interest in his novel.
“Yet none of these literary techniques are foregrounded,” he said.
“But let’s not get this confused: the Hughes saga isn’t a hoax or a scandal. It’s just another annoying misrepresentation of the practice of writers – usually poets, rarely novelists – who use collage and other language recycling techniques in more interesting ways to subvert the cult of the author, and by extension the individualist subjectivities of capitalism.”
No hoax, no scandal, but it was enough, it seems, for the Miles Franklin trustees to remove The Dogs from the award’s longlist last Friday.
Doig said the controversy was unlikely to amount to a hill of beans to the average reader anyway.
“I suspect that the kind of people who’ve been enjoying The Dogs – which is much more of a ‘literary’ effort – might care about arcane issues of originality and transparency-of-intertextuality … but for plenty of readers, it doesn’t matter how ‘original’ something is, just how good it is.
“Is it enjoyable? Is it a good read? And that’s a completely legitimate perspective.”
On Friday, Hughes’ publisher, Terri-ann White of Upswell Publishing, said in a statement that her trust had been breached by the author.
While her “impulse is always to stand by my author”, White said she was affronted by a line he wrote in the piece justifying his work published by the Guardian: “I wanted the appropriated passages to be seen and recognised as in a collage.”
“The events of the past fortnight in the media and amplified on social media have been personally distressing as well as concerning for my very new publishing venture,” she wrote.
In response to questions from the Guardian, Hughes said he was “deeply sorry” for putting White in a difficult situation.
“In my piece on influences I never intended to imply that I had knowingly passed off other writers words as my own,” Hughes said. “I sought only to try to clarify as far as I am able how something like this might 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 very distressed at the thought that her reputation might be tarnished in any way as a result of my actions. Small publishers are vitally important to our industry.”
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'searching for john hughes,' and finding yourself.
Searching for John Hughes
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The elusive dream of adolescent empowerment has been with us for at least as long as we've had Clearasil or wedgies. Tweens, teens, and everyone in between have enough wherewithal to know what they want, but not enough agency in their own lives to get it. And director John Hughes tapped into that youthful anxiety perhaps better than anyone in the history of Hollywood. Ferris Bueller's Day Off , Weird Science , The Breakfast Club , Home Alone and his other early films all gave a voice to those caught in the age old battle between us and them.
Hughes spoke directly to the hopes, fears and impotence of disaffected suburban kids of my generation, and Jason Diamond, author of the memoir Searching For John Hughes , is no exception. Diamond grew up in the same Chicago suburbs that Hughes mined for inspiration, even if Diamond's upbringing was less idyllic than that of the McCallister family. His emotionally and physically abusive father makes Cameron's old man look like dad of the year. As for his mom, she throws up her hands and leaves him to fend for himself when he's still a teenager. He has no one. No one, that is, except John Hughes.
Somewhere along the line, as he tells it, Diamond decides he wants to move to New York and become a professional writer. His first big project? The definitive biography of a certain reclusive director. The only problem is that Diamond doesn't know the first thing about how to do it, even if he's telling people in his life otherwise. "I would write the John Hughes biography that nobody else had ever attempted," he writes. "I would pay the highest tribute to a man whose work had such a huge impact on me, whose vision I had basically based my worldview on. This was my big idea, the one I came up with while drunk and lying."
Diamond becomes a little obsessed, and sometimes it seems like he spends more time talking about the biography at bars than he does actually writing it. A world-weary bartender in Chicago, after hearing Diamond's spiel, shares some needed folksy insight: "It sounds like this book is more about you than it is about John Hughes."
And, of course, he's right, both about Diamond's quixotic biographical project and the the memoir it became. The weakest parts of Searching for John Hughes occur when he belabors that conceit — Diamond works like hell to fit his own narrative into this Hughesian framework, and sometimes it's a stretch. (Is every guy from high school some variation on the archetypal handsome jock, Jake Ryan? Sometimes it feels like it.)
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But this memoir is satisfying in a way that a Hughes film never could be, and the author's story will be achingly familiar to anyone who relied on Hollywood for a respite from reality but who came away disappointed. To paraphrase The Breakfast Club , those of us who went searching for John Hughes (figuratively, if not literally) saw him as we wanted to see him, in the simplest terms, and the most convenient definitions. Sure, all us disaffected '80s kids wanted to live in a John Hughes movie, but it's just possible we didn't think through the implications.
"I told myself that getting into his life and putting something into the world, that was what I needed to make all of my problems disappear," Diamond admits. He does, and he does, but not in the way he expects. And while Searching for John Hughes isn't exactly the book he originally set out to write, it's clearly the book he was meant to write. Diamond helps us — with an assist from that wise bartender — understand that our love for these flawed, wonderful movies was never really about John Hughes at all. It was about us the whole time.
Drew Toal works in politics and is an occasional contributor to NPR Books. A native of southern New Jersey (yes, it's pork roll), he now resides in San Francisco with his wife, Stacey.
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Don’t Mess With Dagger John
By Sam Roberts
- March 7, 2018
In his St. Patrick’s Day sermon in 1852, John J. Hughes, the newly minted first Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, raised a discomfiting cautionary flag.
“There is reason to fear,” Hughes admonished the congregants at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry Street, “that when God permits men or nations to prosper to the extent of their desires, it is a mark of his disfavor.”
His warning that the worldly lure of America’s Manifest Destiny was already threatening his parishioners’ spiritual bonds suggested just how far Irish-Americans had progressed in the more than three decades since Hughes himself had immigrated from County Tyrone.
Last year, in their “Sons of Saint Patrick: A History of the Archbishops of New York From Dagger John to Timmytown” (Ignatius Press), George J. Marlin and Brad Miner traced the evolution of the archdiocese. Now, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, in “Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America” (Three Hills, Cornell University Press), John Loughery prodigiously profiles the most transformative archbishop of them all.
Don’t be cowed because Mr. Loughery’s book is published by an academic press. He has written a comprehensive, insightful and robust biography of a transcendent but neglected figure.
The region Hughes inherited as the coadjutor (or assistant) bishop in 1837 “was a nightmare scarcely imaginable today — in religious and civic terms, in educational and hygienic terms,” Mr. Loughery, a Manhattan English teacher, writes.
New York’s law barring Catholic priests from even entering the state had been repealed only in 1784. And the growing influx of immigrants — even before the late-1840s famine in Ireland — was mortifying the city’s Protestant, Anglophile and nativist majority.
Hughes aggressively defended his flock. After two Philadelphia churches were torched in anti-Catholic rioting, Hughes famously invoked the specter of Russia’s scorched-earth strategy as Napoleon approached. “If a single Catholic Church were burned in New York,” he warned municipal officials in 1844, “the city would become a second Moscow.”
He fought for state support for parochial schools (when so-called public schools required Protestant Bible readings). He ostentatiously broke ground for a new St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue as a bold affirmation of Catholic ascendancy. He founded what became Fordham University.
And while he would always insist that the symbol he affixed next to his signature was a crucifix, not a dagger, he redeemed his nickname by his single-minded campaign to recast Irish Catholics as less un-American than they were perceived as being.
His aggressive lobbying for parochial school aid provoked violence against the episcopal residence, to which Walt Whitman responded: “Had it been the reverend hypocrite’s head, instead of his windows, we would hardly find it in our soul to be sorrowful.”
The prevailing anti-Irish bias might have dissipated sooner but for the 1863 draft riots. Hughes blamed abolitionists for the war. He figured slavery’s demise would have been inevitable. But he favored conscription to preserve the Union.
When his poor New Yorkers boisterously rebelled against the double standard that enabled the wealthy to buy their way out of the draft, Hughes initially responded with insipid appeals to the rioters “to retire to their homes with as little delay as possible.”
If his vigorous defense of Irish immigrants sometimes crossed accepted boundaries between church and state, the backlash also seems extreme. After the draft riots, the diarist George Templeton Strong concluded: “I am sorry to say that England is right about the Irish.”
Even a century later, the Rev. Andrew Greeley would write in “The Catholic Experience” that Hughes, in protecting a flock unable to survive on its own against a hostile environment, was a “fierce and terrible man.”
Mr. Loughery is unsparing in his warts-and-all biography, but also more empathic in placing “Dagger John” in perspective as an ambitious prelate whose disagreements with the Vatican over slavery and other issues denied him his coveted red hat.
“He had an acid tongue, he never suffered fools gladly, he hated admitting when he was wrong, and at his worst his ego was more befitting a Tammany boss than a servant of Christ — there would be no point denying that,” Mr. Loughery writes. But he adds: “Hughes wanted to be a cardinal, not a saint.”
Writing is a ‘questionable business’, but what to make of John Hughes, one of the most prolific plagiarists in literary history?
Adjunct Lecturer, University of Sydney
Dan Dixon does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Sydney provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.
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In June of last year, the Guardian revealed that John Hughes’ Miles Franklin-longlisted novel The Dogs contained material lifted from The Unwomanly Face of War, a book by Nobel Prize-winning Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich. When approached about this, Hughes apologised for the transgression, describing the plagiarism as unintentional.
Before long, it was found that The Dogs contained material taken from numerous other texts, including widely read classics The Great Gatsby and All Quiet on the Western Front.
Hughes responded to these further revelations not with an apology, but with a spirited self-defence . He compared himself, rather incongruously, to Jorge Luis Borges’ Pierre Menard – a fictional character who sets out to rewrite Don Quixote line for line (the absurdity of the endeavour being the point) – and Jean Rhys, whose novel Wide Sargasso Sea does not hide the fact that it is a prequel to and reframing of Jane Eyre that exposes the original’s colonialist underpinnings.
Hughes was, he claimed, creating “a kind of literary palimpsest”. He insisted he had “always spoken through the voices of others”.
As time went on, more plagiarism was found. The story has now culminated with an in-depth investigative essay in the Monthly written by Anna Verney, author of the original Guardian article, and Richard Cooke. They have determined that “Hughes may be among the most prolific literary plagiarists in history”.
The practice seems to have escalated over the course of his career. Having analysed The Dogs, Verney and Cooke note that the
“borrowings” run from sentence parts to pages at a time. Our own table comparing the 312-page novel with these books is 170 pages long, and had to be put on hiatus.
Hughes’ self-defence, tenuous from the start, has become increasingly unconvincing. For one thing, he only identified borrowing-as-method after being accused of plagiarism – previously, his sources remained unattributed, concealed. For another, his claim of intentional collage and appropriation contradicted his initial claim that his incorporation of Alexievich’s work was an unknowing error.
Perhaps more importantly, it is difficult to sustain the literary veneer of borrowing-as-method when Hughes has lifted material from Sparknotes – described by Cooke and Verney as “a set of cribs and summaries intended for high-school English students” – for an essay included in his collection Someone Else, and from the Dementia Australia website for a description of Alzheimer’s disease that appears in his novel No One.
How could Hughes rationalise the plagiarising of one of his own students, Joseph Earp, who responded to the discovery with a measured and nuanced reflection ?
Most egregiously, Verney and Cooke have found that No One, a book that attempts to grapple with the trauma inflicted by settler-colonialism, includes material appropriated from the testimonies of Aboriginal Australians in the “Bringing Them Home” report into the Stolen Generations.
What is an author?
A plagiarism scandal is titillating in part because its stakes seem clear, the villain obvious: plagiarists have cheated, ignoring a law by which the rest of us abide. Throughout our schooling, we are taught it’s wrong to copy from the person seated next to us in the exam hall. “Academic dishonesty”, as it is referred to in universities, can be sufficient reason for expulsion. Plagiarism is theft and fakery: stealing another’s labour and deploying it for one’s own advantage and aggrandisement.
Under such circumstances, punishment must be forthcoming. Earp noted the relish with which interested parties on Twitter condemned Hughes’ wrongdoing, some “anticipating that John might have a mental breakdown”.
There are two easily tangled threads here that are worth untangling: the legal and the moral. Legally, we are not permitted to take another’s intellectual property without permission. Part of the fascination with Hughes’ plagiarism, then, depends on the legal authorisation of our adverse moral judgement.
In his essay What is an Author? (1969), Michel Foucault argues that “speeches and books were assigned real authors only when the author became subject to punishment and to the extent that his discourse was considered transgressive.”
Foucault attributes the value we place on authorship to the tradition of “Christian exegesis when it wished to prove the value of a text by ascertaining the holiness of its author”. He goes on to link our contemporary understanding that authors have “ownership” over their work to the establishment of copyright law in the late 18th and early 19th century.
Rather than describing the author as an individual, Foucault instead describes the “author-function”, which, he writes “is not defined by the spontaneous attribution of a text to its creator, but through a series of precise and complex procedures”.
As Foucault suggest, the power we grant authorship depends on these questions, and on our ability to punish an author when that power is abused.
Read more: Plagiarism, John Hughes’ The Dogs and the ethical responsibilities of the novelist
A personal deception
Literary plagiarism can feel like a particularly personal deception, because when we read we are doing so, in part, to connect with the mind of the author. We judge a book with the presumption that the words are the author’s. The plagiarist breaks that contract.
The plagiarist also risks exposing and embarassing the reader who fails to recognise sentences straight out of Anna Karenina or The Great Gatsby as an unliterary fool. The reader has approached the work in good faith, and this good faith has been exploited.
But there is also something tragic about plagiarism, in that it constitutes a forfeiting of the self, an acceptance that influence cannot be surpassed.
Plagiarism is transgression commonly associated with lazy students. But it is worth noting that, as a teacher, I have found students tend to plagiarise not because they are lazy, but because they fear they lack the capacity to stake out their own claims. It is rarely effective as a labour-saving device. “The paradox of plagiarism,” David Foster Wallace wrote, “is that it actually requires a lot of care and hard work to pull off successfully.”
In a 2021 review of the first biography of W.G. Sebald, Ben Lerner notes that Sebald’s
phrases, sentences, even paragraphs are often lifted from or echo other writers; a critical cottage industry has been built around tracking down the sources Sebald integrates so seamlessly into his own melancholic voice. The technique means that even his narrator’s most personal statements are ghostly and choral and anachronistic and often vaguely familiar in their very texture.
Lerner admires Sebald (as do I and many others), but his appropriations are morally fraught and controversial . Lerner concludes his review with an acknowledgement that “writing is a questionable business”.
Sebald died in 2001. Most of his appropriations were discovered posthumously. While his plagiarism has shaped how he is spoken of, it has not proved fatal to his reputation (though I do wonder what questions would be asked if he still lived).
Hughes, in turn, lifts from Sebald. Verney and Cooke speculate that Hughes may have “imagined himself an Australian Sebald”. Sebald’s integration of the words of others into his own voice reflects his concern with history, memory and trauma in post-World War II Germany; Hughes’s work is preoccupied with similar themes, which he considers in an Australian context.
Sebald is unlike Hughes, however, in that he has an established international reputation. Few recent authors have had more influence on the direction of contemporary literature.
Several of those who spoke to Verney and Cooke (including Hughes’ publisher) imagine how Hughes might continue to write and keep his books in print, but the overwhelming consensus has been that this scandal should signify the end of his literary career. Is it worth considering what forgiveness or redemption might look like, if only to reflect on the qualities that make the Sebald case seem ethically ambiguous and the Hughes case ethically unambiguous.
There are, of course, matters of degree and context when it comes to plagiarism. The first known novel by an African American, Clotel by William Wells Brown, copied more than 87,000 words from nearly 300 sources. In Plagiarama! , Geoffrey Sanborn makes a convincing case that the extent of Brown’s borrowings make the book “read more like a public-oriented series of apparitional events than like the monologic product of a solitary self”.
Clotel’s plagiarism was a manifestation of what Sanborn describes as “an aesthetics of attractions.” But its significance is also tied to Brown’s monumental feat of having escaped enslavement, absorbed so many sources, and published the first African American novel, irrespective of its technique.
Verney and Cooke suggest that Hughes, as a white man, is a more likely candidate for redemption than a woman or person of colour in the same position. The power dynamics matter. Where Brown wielded the tools of his oppressors to his own advantage, Hughes could be said to have repurposed the suffering of Aboriginal Australians as literary ornamentation. There are circumstances that justify an author becoming a conduit for unattributed voices, but it is very hard to justify in this instance.
Foucault might be happy to consign Hughes to the status of author-function, but the question of authorial ownership is not theoretical. The postmodern arguments for pastiche and collage have become less welcome in a world that is increasingly conscious of the political implications of such appropriations and where, increasingly, artists are fighting for scraps.
“Once published,” write Verney and Cooke, “the reality was that Hughes’s plagiarism went undiscovered for so long because so few people were reading his books.” It seems true that the majority of people who have now heard of Hughes did not know of him before this story broke. Writing has never been a particularly great way to get rich. In contemporary Australia, writers are rarely well-compensated . Here, too, Hughes’ actions appear ethically questionable. As Earp observes: “He was compensated for my labour.”
It is not unique to Australian literature that books are often more talked about than read. But in this relatively minor zone of antipodean reading and writing, it is inevitable that a story like this prompts us to ask how it might be symptomatic. Does the appropriation of European Nobel Prize-winners suggest an inferiority complex, an unhealthy worship of the continent? Is the frailty or shallowness of our literary culture to blame? Or is Hughes simply an aberration? A man who so filled himself with others’ writing that no room remained for him?
Verney and Cooke’s essay is thorough and restrained. It does not uncomplicatedly condemn Hughes, but adopts a disposition of curiosity and astonishment. What on earth could lead someone to plagiarise so often and so comprehensively? Multiple sources cited in the Monthly article note that Hughes is a talented writer and an intelligent man. Earp describes him as “astonishingly smart”.
The mystery of his motivation, then, becomes a compelling psychodrama, which perhaps explains why I cannot recall an event associated with Australian literature in recent years that has garnered quite as much coverage or excited talk.
Hughes was right to say, in his self-defence, that all authors are influenced by, and borrow from, other authors without explicit citation. But there is a threshold, blurry as it may be, where influence and allusion become plagiarism, and, knowingly or unknowingly, Hughes blew right past it.
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New York Irish, slavery, the Civil War and Archbishop 'Dagger' Hughes
New york’s irish – led by archbishop “dagger” john hughes – were mostly pro-south during the civil war, but many fought courageously for the union..
When we think of New York City today we think of a liberal stronghold, the bluest of the blue. But 150 years ago, during the Civil War, it was a southern stronghold. And it got a lot of its anti-Lincoln sentiment from its feral Irish- Catholic population.
Blame it all on Eli Whitney.
He invented the cotton gin in 1794, which made cotton production easy and profitable. John Strausbaugh looks at New York City’s addiction to King Cotton and its consequences in "City of Sedition: The History of New York City During the Civil War" (Twelve Books). Strausbaugh points out that seven of every ten slaves worked directly or indirectly in cotton. “The city was more than just complicit in maintaining the institution,” he maintains. “The plantation system and New York City spurred each other’s exponential growth in the first half of the nineteenth century.” The south was soon pouring at least $200-million a year into the city’s economy. “Cotton came to represent,” Strausbaugh says, “a whopping 40 percent of all the goods shipped out of the port of New York.”
Strausbaugh is very familiar with New York and wrote "The Village," which could be called the definitive biography of the quirky piece of real estate known as Greenwich Village. IrishCentral asked Strausbaugh if his research on the Village led him to write "City of Sedition"? “I love researching and writing about New York history,” said. “It’s so deep and rich and messy and crowded with astounding characters. After 'The Village' I was pitching a sort of companion volume, a history of the Lower East Side, when Sean Desmond, the editor of Twelve, asked if I’d be interested in doing the Civil War instead. I knew it’s a fascinating period in the city’s history and jumped at the chance.”
New York during the Civil War was filled with colorful characters: Walt Whitman (the sainted poet wasn’t a great fan of the Irish either, labeling them “bog-trotters”), Fernando Wood (New York’s 75th mayor was a conman in the Trump mold), Archbishop “Dagger” John Hughes (the undisputed no-nonsense leader of the Irish), Thomas Francis Meagher (New Irelander turned Civil War general), John O’Mahony (the leader of the American Fenians), Matthew Brady (famed photographer), Herman Melville (failed novelist), Edwin Booth (famous Shakespearian actor with a brother problem) and, of course, Boss Tweed…need we say more? When asked if writing about this eccentric group made his work easier, Strausbaugh replied: “Absolutely. One story is wilder, funnier, more outrageous or inspiring than the next. It was great fun to weave their individual life stories into a tapestry.”
With characters like Hughes and Meagher it’s no wonder that the Irish play a prominent part in "City of Sedition." The Irish were already in New York by the time of the Great Famine, but the famine flooded New York with more impoverished Irish in the aftermath of “Black 47.”
“[The famine] had an immense impact,” conceded Strausbaugh. “There were Irish in New York from the time of the Revolution, but their numbers were relatively low—and many were lace-curtain Irish Protestants. The famine brought a tsunami of desperately poor, rural Irish Catholics into the city. It totally shifted the economic, social and political map. They went from terrible hardship in the Irish countryside to terrible hardship in the big city. Tammany Hall , the Democratic machine, scooped them up as voters and as ballot-box-stuffers; conservative leaders like James Gordon Bennett, editor of the Herald, whipped them into fear and hatred of blacks; so-called ‘native’ New Yorkers were as fiercely prejudiced toward them as they were toward blacks—more, really, because (a) there were vastly more Irish in New York than blacks, and (b) because the Irish were Catholics, and Protestant New Yorkers feared and hated Catholics.”
“There, in a curious quirk of history,” Strausbaugh writes in 'City of Sedition,' “[the Irish] developed an intimate love-hate relationship with poor black New Yorkers. They lived together, worked together, played together, learned each other’s music and dances, and slept together despite the authorities’ constantly passing ordinances against race-mixing, called ‘amalgamation’ at the time. They clung together to the very lowest rung of the city’s social ladder. Racist stereotypes, bandied about with a complete lack of conscience by other New Yorkers, were startlingly similar for the Irish and the Negro: Both were lazy, drunken, sex-crazed, stupid, and apelike.”
The leader of Catholic New York was one Archbishop John Hughes, maybe the most colorful prelate in the history of the New York Archdiocese. He was born in County Tyrone in 1797, was called “Dagger John” because of the stiletto-like crucifix he fashioned, wore a bad toupee, and took guff from no one—especially the nativist Know-Nothings who were fond of burning down Catholic churches.
Strausbaugh colorfully wrote that Hughes “was said to act more like a Roman gladiator or an Irish chieftain than a meek follower of Christ…He famously warned that if a single Catholic came to harm, ‘we shall turn this city into a second Moscow,’ a reference to Moscow’s residents burning down their city in 1812 rather than let Napoleon have it.”
IrishCentral wanted to know what made “Dagger John” unique. “His feistiness,” Strausbaugh replied without hesitation. “He was fearless in standing up to Protestant, ‘nativist’ New Yorkers on behalf of his flock.”
In contrast to the Catholics were the abolitionists, a sullen lot. “Funny,” laughed Strausbaugh, “I hadn’t thought of them as ‘sullen,’ but it’s not an inappropriate description. Basically, abolitionists—white abolitionists, as opposed to black abolitionists—were of New England stock and Protestant. American Protestants lived in dread that the country was being overrun by ‘Papists,’ who would end democracy and deliver the nation to Rome. As silly as that sounds, it was quite a prevalent concern. So you get this odd-looking dichotomy of abolitionists being quite progressive and ‘liberal’ on the issue of slavery, but quite conservative and benighted regarding the Irish.”
“While the abolitionists were making enemies of the Irish workers,” writes Strausbaugh, “anti-abolitionist forces in the city were wooing and exploiting them. One of their favorite tactics, which they would use right into the Civil War years, was to scare workers with terrible predictions that if the millions of enslaved blacks in the South were freed they’d flood into northern cities and take away all the work…
"With the flood of Famine Irish into the Lower East Side in the 1840s and 1850s, the immigrants’ struggle to set themselves apart from blacks and be accepted by whites turned mean and hard. The Irish now developed a fierce strain of anti-black and anti-abolitionist sentiment. Clinging desperately to their low-level jobs, Irish workers hated the abolitionist movement they feared would unleash millions of freed black workers to flood the city and replace them.”
And Dagger John was having none of it. “He lashed abolitionism as a dangerous ‘mischief,’ ” wrote Strausbaugh. Hughes seemed to waiver in moral authority when confronted with the evil of slavery. “Because Catholicism was so beleaguered in America at the time,” Strausbaugh told IrishCentral, “the Catholic Church was not very forthcoming about slavery, not wanting to make enemies on any side of the issue. The Church’s basic stance, which Hughes espoused, was that so long as slavery was legal in the South, owning slaves was not a sin, though mistreating them was. Also, he was Irish, head of an Irish flock, and the Irish had decided to be on the anti-abolitionist side of the issue.”
With the start of the Civil War the Irish—led by Hughes and the likes of Thomas Francis Meagher, Michael Corcoran and John O’Mahony—stood by the Union. “Archbishop Hughes, no fan of Lincoln or blacks,” wrote Strausbaugh, “decided that fighting for their adopted country presented his Irish Catholic flock an opportunity to silence their Know-Nothing detractors. The leaders of the Fenian Brotherhood were of two minds about the war. Combat would give their fighters experience they could later put to good use against the British, but inevitably it would also thin their ranks, even in the short and glorious war everyone expected.” In all 150,000 Irish fought heroically for the Union, one-third of them from around New York City.
The Irish contribution to the Civil War—led by men like Meagher, O’Mahony and Corcoran—helped to make the Irish “acceptable” to many Americans. “They were very visible figures,” said Strausbaugh, “and at first highly celebrated, which did a lot of good for the image of the Irish. The New York Times noted that Corcoran, specifically, one of the few Union heroes of the First Battle of Bull Run, did a lot to improve the Irish image in the city.”
Later, suspicious of Lincoln’s tactics, “…Archbishop Hughes warned [Meagher] of a rumor in the city that Lincoln was really prosecuting the war to free the slaves; if it was true, [Hughes] said Irishmen ‘will turn away in disgust from the discharge of what would otherwise be a patriotic duty.’ ”
Although Lincoln made his name in New York at his speech at Cooper Union in 1860, New York was not Lincoln Territory. “Principally because of New York City’s long and deep economic ties to the international cotton trade,” says Strausbaugh, “the majority of New Yorkers saw it in their personal interests to support the South and plantation slavery. They saw Lincoln as the candidate of the abolitionists, and were convinced he’d move to end Southern slavery if elected—despite his saying, many times and in many ways, that he had no intention of doing so. Thus many New Yorkers were hostile to him. New Yorkers voted against him 2-to-1 in 1860 and again in 1864.”
However, with the enactment of the draft in 1863 Hughes said, “The people should insist on being drafted, and so bring this unnatural strife to a close.”
The draft also brought all the simmering racial antagonism to a boil. “An explosive one,” said Strausbaugh. “After an initial flurry of signing up when the war started, the horrors of battle had reduced volunteerism in the city to a trickle. And the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation had changed the agenda of the North’s war from preserving the Union to ending slavery—a goal many New Yorkers had no interest in fighting and dying for.
Furthermore, the draft allowed a man to buy his way out for $300. That was a year’s wages for a working man. Meanwhile, wartime inflation had doubled the price of staples, while workers’ wages stagnated or decreased. So a lot of grievances had been building up among the city’s white workers, and they saw the draft as the final insult. The first names in New York City were drawn on a Saturday; the rioting started that Monday. One historian has noted that while the draft was the immediate spark, it was truly more of a citywide workers’ revolt. They exploded in what’s still the deadliest rioting in American history—officially 119 deaths, though many New Yorkers believed that number was very low.”
At the end of the riots Archbishop Hughes addressed his people: “Men of New York. They call you riotous but I cannot see a riotous face among you….I have been hurt by the reports that you are rioters. You cannot imagine that I could hear these things without being pained grievously. Is there not some way by which you can stop these proceedings, and support the laws, of which none have been enacted against you as Irishmen and Catholics?...Would it not be better for you to retire quietly?” Hughes would die the following year.
“As for the draft riots,” says Strausbaugh, “[Hughes] was treading a fine line. Other New Yorkers were blaming the Irish for the riots. He didn’t want to play into that, but at the same time he wanted to discourage his flock from participating. It left him in rather a quandary, simultaneously denying the Irish had participated and asking them to stop.”
The war, mercifully, finally came to an end in 1865. As for the Irish, they would continue to use Hughes’ schools, hospitals and orphanages as they dug themselves out of poverty to become prominent in every field of commerce and government. When last seen, the Civil War veteran Fenians were quixotically invading Canada to liberate it from British hegemony. They would soon fade, but their quest for Irish independence would be taken up by a new wave of immigrant Irishmen, men like John Devoy, Thomas Clarke, James Connolly and John MacBride—all of whom would use New York as a launching pad for the 1916 Easter Rising.
New York, of course, went on to become the “Big Apple,” the greatest city in the world. But as much as things change, they seem to stay the same. The Know-Nothings are gone, but 155 years later nativism is still deeply ingrained in Americans. “I’m one of those people who believe history is valuable in its own right and doesn’t need to be ‘relevant’ to the present,” concludes Strausbaugh. “Then again, it’s sure hard not to see parallels between the racism, anti-immigration sentiments and fear-mongering demagogues then and now. (And one of those demagogues today happens to be from New York City!) I think it would take someone who knows a lot more about sociology and political science than I do to explain why some of these attitudes don’t seem to have changed, but I have to think that feelings of economic insecurity—reality-based or just imagined—have much to do with it.”
*Dermot McEvoy is the author of "The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising" and "Irish Miscellany" (Skyhorse Publishing). He may be reached at dermotm[email protected]. Follow him on his website and Facebook page .
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The Continental Director Hypes the John Wick Prequel's Period-Appropriate Needle Drops
The Continental's Albert Hughes teases how the John Wick spinoff series uses licensed tunes to capture the spirit of its 1970s New York setting.
The Continental director Albert Hughes is keen to talk up the John Wick prequel miniseries' period-appropriate licensed soundtrack.
Hughes hyped The Continental 's use of 1970s tunes during a panel appearance at San Diego-Comic Con 2023, excerpts from which recently surfaced online. The director declared that the spinoff show would include "needle drops everywhere" and insisted that its soundtrack is "not just score, it's music." Hughes also rattled off a list of artists whose tunes are set to appear in The Continental , including Santana, ZZ Top, James Brown, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, and Donna Summer. He added that The Continental 's diverse playlist reflected the multicultural identity he wanted to bring to the series, itself inspired by his own biracial heritage.
Related: The Continental Production Designer Reveals the Exact Size of the Show's Biggest Set Piece
This isn't the first time Hughes has opened up about what influenced his take on the John Wick prequel. He previously credited the likes of Andor , The Mandalorian , and Fargo with convincing him to sign on for The Continental , as they proved it was possible to bring a fresh approach to existing franchises. "[A]t first I didn't think I would be interested, and then I started thinking about things like Tony Gilroy on Andor , and Jon Favreau on The Mandalorian and Noah Hawley on Fargo and I go, 'Oh, you can make something in a sandbox that already exists.' And that it took place in the '70s. So I go, ''This can be fun,'" Hughes said.
The Continental Director Teases the John Wick Prequel's Fights
Hughes' idea of fun may not necessarily align with that of John Wick devotees, however. The director recently revealed that The Continental will feature shorter fight scenes than fans are likely expecting given its big screen counterpart's reputation for extended action set pieces. Hughes was quick to justify this creative choice, though, assuring the John Wick fanbase that The Continental 's briefer battles are carefully calibrated to leave them wanting more. "I didn't want to run into the problem of action fatigue," he said. "That was a constant creative ebb and flow with [action director] Larnell [Stovall], God bless him."
Related: The Continental Trailer Highlights Mel Gibson's Villain in John Wick Prequel
Hughes and the rest of The Continental 's creative team trying to figure out how to recreate aspects of John Wick's world (such as the fights) on the small screen presumably reflects the franchise's "accidental" nature. According to executive producer Basil Iwanyk, the John Wick universe developed as a by-product of the early films' success, which meant there was no roadmap in place when it came time to expand it even further. That said, Iwanyk also described both The Continental and upcoming spinoff movie Ballerina as the natural "next steps" in John Wick 's development as a cross-media series.
The Continental premieres on Peacock on Sept. 22, 2023, and will consist of three 90-minute episodes.
Source: SDCC 2023, via Popverse
An archbishop nicknamed ‘Dagger John’
Born in Ireland in 1797, John Hughes was fond of saying that for the first five days of his life, he enjoyed social and civil equality with the most favored subjects in the British Empire. But that status ended on the day of his baptism. Hughes went on to spend much of the rest of his life fighting for this lost equality with and respect from the Protestant elite, both for himself and the various Catholic flocks he would lead as a priest and bishop in the United States. Because of his larger than life personality, his position as the archbishop of New York and the stories of his often very public battles with government officials as well as other clerics, Hughes not only captured the attention and imagination of his contemporaries but has also fascinated people down to our own day.
Cornell University Press. 420p, $32.95
In his 2002 film “Gangs of New York,” Martin Scorsese included a scene in which a fictionalized Hughes rallies a crowd of Irish toughs armed to the teeth to protect his cathedral from a nativist mob threatening to burn it. When Scorsese was a student in a Bronx Catholic high school in the late 1950s, he had learned about the real Hughes and his supposed threat in 1844 to the city’s mayor that he would tell the Irish “to turn New York into a second Moscow” if one of his churches was touched. (Napoleon had burned Moscow to the ground in 1812.)
Archbishop Hughes supposedly threatened "to turn New York into a second Moscow” if one of his churches was touched by rioting nativists.
None of the churches were damaged. The diocesan priests who taught Scorsese (and also wrote the church history textbook he used) were still fiercely proud of their former archbishop and his championing of the rights and dignity of their forebears at a time when Catholics were still often marginalized by the Protestant establishment.
When a historical figure has a reputation as large as Hughes, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction, as is the case with the possibly apocryphal tale of Hughes’s threat to the mayor. However, in this new biography of the most significant U.S. Catholic leader from the mid-19th century, Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America, John Loughery not only handles the historical record prudently but also mines the data of the life and times of Hughes with verve and just enough detail to keep the reader moving eagerly forward to the next chapter.
Loughery is not the first to try his hand at a life of Hughes. In 1866, just two years after his death, John Hassard, the archbishop’s lay private secretary, wrote Hughes’s life story. Given the proximity of the author to his subject (both in time and relationship), the book has all the expected strengths as well as shortcomings. In 1977, Richard Shaw wrote a second and quite respectable biography, but he based it almost exclusively on secondary sources, thus limiting its value. In this new attempt, Loughery not only has the benefit of distance for a more comprehensive view of his subject but also did the hard and often tiresome work of archival research using scores of handwritten letters as well as other primary source material available in the United States.
In academia today, biographies of bishops attract little interest (especially for a young professional seeking tenure in a history department). Nevertheless, there is still a demand for episcopal biographies among educated readers, especially when the subject’s impact extended beyond his priests and people. Part of what makes this biography relevant outside the field of American Catholic history is that Hughes was the first U.S. Catholic bishop to become a national figure, with connections and interactions stretching at times all the way to the White House.
Hughes was the first U.S. Catholic bishop to become a national figure, with connections and interactions stretching at times all the way to the White House.
For example, in May of 1846, just a month into the Mexican-American War, President James Polk asked to meet privately with Hughes to build Catholic support for the war effort. In addition to getting two Jesuits from Georgetown College to serve as chaplains for the U.S. forces, Hughes also used the opportunity to build his own reputation as a major player by offering to serve as an emissary to the Mexican government. Although this never came to pass, 15 years later at the start of the Civil War, Secretary of State William Seward (with whom Hughes had developed a good working relationship when the former was governor of New York) did ask him to travel to several European capitals “to promote healthful opinions” about the justice of the Union cause.
While there is some question as to whether Hughes really did whip up a mob of Irishmen to protect his churches in 1844, there is no doubt that he most certainly did address a crowd of his fellow countrymen in July of 1863, which also turned out to be his last public appearance. However, this time he was trying to calm the Irish, not incite them. The occasion was the New York City draft riots, in which mobs of poor Irish immigrants reacted violently to the imposition of conscription to bolster the Union forces. Since wealthy men could hire a replacement for themselves, the discontent was fueled both by anger toward this favoritism as well as antipathy toward the city’s growing black population, whom many of the Irish resented for both racial and economic reasons. Quite ill by this summer, Hughes addressed a relatively small crowd on the fourth day of the unrest, when the rioters had spent most of their force. When order was restored by the end of the week, it is clear that it had less to do with Hughes’s intervention than with the arrival of federal troops, including some of whom had recently fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.
Hughes had the descriptor “Dagger” placed before his name in his own day (and ever since) due to his fiery personality, which blazed at times at those both within the church and without. In more recent years, some have criticized him for his bluster and street-fighter tactics, citing the effects they may have had on fanning the flames of nativism while also encouraging Catholics to remain in their ghetto rather than engage with the dominant Protestant society. However, in 1966 John Tracy Ellis offered a more nuanced (and arguably more valid) assessment of Hughes and his style of leadership. The former dean of U.S. Catholic history pointed out that American Protestantism of the 19th century was by no means as open and irenic as it has been for the last half-century. For this reason, according to Ellis, “there were times when [Hughes’s] very aggressiveness was about the only approach that would serve the end he was seeking, viz., justice for his people.”
This article also appeared in print, under the headline “An archbishop fit for a Scorsese film,” in the April 30, 2018 , issue.
Rev. Anthony D. Andreassi, a priest of the Brooklyn Oratory, holds a doctorate in history and teaches at Regis High School in New York City.
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