Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Comparisons of books of a similar subject


  • Please log in to reply
36 replies to this topic

#16 innopac

innopac

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 784 posts

Posted 24 April 2010 - 06:50 PM

Newly opened archives have revealed so much. One topic -- tying in with "books of a similar subject" -- concerns those who suffered under Stalinism, Or collaborated. Or dropped out. There's a new book by Orlando Figes, The Whisperers that does an impressive job of presenting evidence that wasn't available only 20 years ago. The subtitle, "Private Life in Stalin's Russia," suggests a new way of looking at Stalinism (from the bottom up, as it wree) that would have been impossible (literally) just a generation ago. Balelt Talk readers may know Figes's book on Russian cultural history, Natasha's Dance.

Here are the latest revelations about Orlando Figes article from the Independent and article from Mail Online. What a shame... so unnecessary and damaging to his own reputation.

The historian unmasked himself as the writer of several scathing reviews of books by contemporaries including Robert Service, Rachel Polonsky and the novelist Kate Summerscale on the shopping website Amazon. He originally denied authorship and then claimed that his wife had penned them.

The professor of Russian history at Birkbeck, University of London, who has previously been engaged in at least two legal disputes with other historians, has been accused and cleared of plagiarism, and received hate mail while an academic at Cambridge. One colleague who did not want to be named described the most recent episode as "the tip of the iceberg".



#17 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,533 posts

Posted 24 April 2010 - 09:01 PM

Thank you for the links, innopac. Figes will be fine. The Internet makes people do odd things. As one of the articles you linked to notes, you can recover from almost anything these days. (Until the 'tip of the iceberg' fellow goes on the record I'm not inclined to pay too much attention to that.)

#18 Ed Waffle

Ed Waffle

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts

Posted 25 April 2010 - 06:45 PM

Thank you for the links, innopac. Figes will be fine. The Internet makes people do odd things. As one of the articles you linked to notes, you can recover from almost anything these days. (Until the 'tip of the iceberg' fellow goes on the record I'm not inclined to pay too much attention to that.)


And sometimes we discover that a particular iceberg is nothing but a tip and that it couldn't sink much of anything. I have no idea if this is the case here but am reminded of the familiar quip by Henry Kissinger (or Richard Neustadt, Wallace Sayre, C. P. Snow or a number of others) that academic politics is so vicious because so little is at stake.

#19 Kathleen O'Connell

Kathleen O'Connell

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 795 posts

Posted 25 April 2010 - 07:34 PM

The Internet makes people do odd things.


I don't know which is shabbier - sinking to sock-puppetry or letting your spouse take the rap for it. That Figes was so inept at covering his own e-tracks makes the whole spectacle even more pathetic.

If you're going to savage your rivals, do it with style.

#20 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 25 April 2010 - 07:43 PM

The Internet makes people do odd things.


I don't know which is shabbier - sinking to sock-puppetry or letting your spouse take the rap for it. That Figes was so inept at covering his own e-tracks makes the whole spectacle even more pathetic.

If you're going to savage your rivals, do it with style.


I agree, and I'm very familiar with people doing this, and have had it done to me. It is not nearly as uncommon as one might think for very distinguished people, but who are often going through a burnout period, or even an autumnal decline in their careers, to do this.

I can't say I agree with you, dirac, that the internet makes people do things, or at least that's only half of it. If somebody lets it make them do these (all the ridiculous stalkings that really do go on on the net, and I know the details of friends who have been victim of this), they are also choosing to do it. Endless impersonation of other people is also done, all sorts of phony emails are sent, I've had this happen in these processes too, and the kind of person who insists on withholding his identity online is usually pretty cowardly, if s/he starts carrying it into someone else's offline life--some are even borderline hackers, and try to get security details out of you, although the hardcore hacker never uses anything so clumsy and directly personal. And yet I find on the blogs that it may even be the majority who use a pseudonym. At BT, people use them, but these are just for fun more than to hide names usually, and I don't believe anybody here writes with a moniker in order to hide their identity. Some who use them always identify themselves in pm's as a courtesy, I've noticed. Even I don't use my whole name like Mel and Alexandra do, but almost everybody knows it, and I wouldn't care if everybody did.

#21 leonid17

leonid17

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,447 posts

Posted 29 April 2010 - 05:44 AM

Newly opened archives have revealed so much. One topic -- tying in with "books of a similar subject" -- concerns those who suffered under Stalinism, Or collaborated. Or dropped out. There's a new book by Orlando Figes, The Whisperers that does an impressive job of presenting evidence that wasn't available only 20 years ago. The subtitle, "Private Life in Stalin's Russia," suggests a new way of looking at Stalinism (from the bottom up, as it wree) that would have been impossible (literally) just a generation ago. Balelt Talk readers may know Figes's book on Russian cultural history, Natasha's Dance.

Here are the latest revelations about Orlando Figes article from the Independent and article from Mail Online. What a shame... so unnecessary and damaging to his own reputation.

The historian unmasked himself as the writer of several scathing reviews of books by contemporaries including Robert Service, Rachel Polonsky and the novelist Kate Summerscale on the shopping website Amazon. He originally denied authorship and then claimed that his wife had penned them.

The professor of Russian history at Birkbeck, University of London, who has previously been engaged in at least two legal disputes with other historians, has been accused and cleared of plagiarism, and received hate mail while an academic at Cambridge. One colleague who did not want to be named described the most recent episode as "the tip of the iceberg".


I have always assumed Figes books were written for a popular audience and I am suprised therefore, at the row in the academic nursery.

#22 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,533 posts

Posted 29 April 2010 - 09:19 AM

I'm surprised that Robert Service could possibly object to anyone saying his books suck.



#23 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 29 April 2010 - 06:14 PM

I don't know how I missed the revival of this thread, but -- thanks, innopac, for bringing Figes back.

leonid, I've always considered Figes to be a serious, academically-based scholar. He does have a wider than usual general readership. Either way, the revelations are surprising and depressing.

His anonymous hatchet-jobs posted on Amazon suggests that Figes is someone who is certainly petty and possibly disturbed.

The plagiarism allegations -- "nonattribution of quotations" and borrowing of material and even wording from other works -- isn't uncommon in academic scholarship, though Figes seems to have gone farther than usual and taken more risks.

Worst to me is the following:

In 2002, the Cambridge historian Rachel Polonsky wrote a review of Figes's book in The Times Literary Supplement in which she accused him of inaccuracies, factual errors, misreadings, cavalier appropriation of sources and a general intellectual irresponsibility. Figes subsequently defended his record, but, according to Polonsky, misquoted his own book. When Polonsky wrote to point out that he had not quoted his own work in full, she was told the TLS would not be publishing her letter and the matter was dropped.

I'd love to know why the TLS -- which often features heated back-and-forth disputes among academics -- suppressed this one. Figes was himself a frequent and high-profile TLS reviewer, which may have had something to do with it.

Something that interested me particularly is the question of how this will or will not effect Figes' career.

Opinion is divided over whether Figes will be able to remain in post after what one historian described as "career suicide" from which he could "never recover". But a one-time colleague of Figes said Birkbeck would be unlikely to want to lose one its most eminent names, and that "these days people recover from almost anything".

That last statement, which I've highlighted, is perhaps the saddest part of the article.

#24 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 29 April 2010 - 08:31 PM

That last statement, which I've highlighted, is perhaps the saddest part of the article.


Interesting that, and made me think of some non-literary examples, the first that popped into my mind was Martha Stewart, who certainly did exactly that--recover, and totally. Not that it wasn't all painful process, so it would also have something to do with the strength of the person. Stewart is definitely so strong that she even made the best of her prison time. Film stars' careers would be resuscitated after scandals, although the scandals are not usually completely forgotten. This may mean something more specific within the academic community, though. It is true that academic internecine wars do often seem very lilliputian from the outside, office politics can be like that too. I'm actually unfamiliar with Figes and all the other writers mentioned, the only Robert Service I know is the Yukon poet, and barely remember him. Plagiarism is indeed considered serious, and wasn't there a famous case in the 90s at the New Yorker, I forget the writer's name, Janet something? I do have to say that even though Kissinger's remark seems accurate, it's a little unfortunate that he's the source, since it comes off as snobbish from one who has know 'great power', etc.. But I've known academics with their letters of recommendation for jobs that are meant to present the applicant unfavourably, and there's a lot of lying and pretending going on, a dark underbelly as with all professions, maybe. Penelope Gilliatt once accused of plagiarism, I think even Doris Kearns Goodwin, the first was having a lot of health problems anyway, my memory is bad about Goodwin, she may have just been being careless, not sure if she's managed to fully restore her reputation (I used to just know her on Lehrer News Hour, which I haven't watched for years.) Myabe the sad part is that sometimes the scandals breathe too much new life into some careers, although I'm sure that remark about 'recovery from everything' is hyperbole.

#25 GianninaM

GianninaM

    Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPip
  • 83 posts

Posted 30 April 2010 - 05:27 AM

Going way back to the Beverly Sills' books: who is the author of "Beverly Sills"; is that Kerby?

Giannina

#26 richard53dog

richard53dog

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,401 posts

Posted 30 April 2010 - 07:25 AM

Going way back to the Beverly Sills' books: who is the author of "Beverly Sills"; is that Kerby?

Giannina



Sills' second memoir was entitled "Beverly" rather than "Beverly Sills" . It's subtitled "an autobiography" and the "with" writer is Lawrence Linderman.

Actually the two memoirs, very different in tone, nicely reflect the two personnas that Sills evidently had. I was a bit surprised, even shocked when "Beverly" was published. I never knew Sills except as a backstage fan and a follower in her operatic, concert, television, and also her many, many philanthropic efforts and the tone of "Bubbles" matched the person I had encountered. Sills was very generous with her time and helpful with young singers. And she was tireless in supporting the March of Dimes and other charities that dealt with birth defects, so close to home to her with both children being born with terrible genetic problems.

A close friend of mine asked her backstage at the opera for advise on pursuing a singing career and Sills was endlessly patient and generous
with her, giving her lots of very specific encouragement and suggestions. And one wonders how many, many times she ran into this same situation after singing a performance and greeting enthusiatic but time-consuming strangers in her dressing room.

I also recall a TV performance in the late 70s where Sills was doing a benefit performance (she did many, many of these) for a Midwestern music school. The young student playing the flute accompaniment to the piece Sills was singing was not really up to the level of expertise the piece required and could only get through the notes at a rather slow pace. Sills' carefully slowed down her own tempo and watched the young student carefully staying with her and smiling the whole time to encourage the young performer and not to undermine her confidence. Sills very warmly had the young flute player take all the bows with her.

And she made countless appearances on different TV shows during the 70s, almost always displaying the very charismatic, enthusiastic, charming person with a very generous sense of humor. I had heard her trademark hearty laugh many, many times myself backstage after her performances or when she was "visiting" the NYCO on her nights off.

So I was a bit surprised at the different side of the same person in "Beverly". But evidently that also accurately reflected another side of Sills, who after all was a Gemini. You didn't cross her professionally or try to cut her out of something she felt was her entitlement. In this situations she was tough and singeleminded. Ruthless could also probably be used accurately. And increasingly, as Sills got older, she had an ever greater need of public acknowledgement and attention. The repeated name dropping that crops up in "Beverly" became more and more pronounced as Sills acted as "host" on televised arts events. It was all progressively less and less about the performers she was interviewing and more, and more about her own career. Sadly, I cringed when she appeared on the tv screen, anticipating yet another rehash of "Beverly's" own triumphs rather the the unfortunate person who "thought" they were in the spotlight.

So to me, it's interesting to read both books. Which is the "real" person??? I think BOTH of them are.

#27 GianninaM

GianninaM

    Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPip
  • 83 posts

Posted 30 April 2010 - 08:34 AM

Ordered it from Amazon and it's on its way. Ballet Talk will get a percentage of the cost of the book, which was 1 cent! Better they should get a percentage of the postage, which was $3.99. Thanks, Richard53dog.

#28 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,533 posts

Posted 30 April 2010 - 09:23 AM

So to me, it's interesting to read both books. Which is the "real" person??? I think BOTH of them are.


I think that's fair. Sills came very close to missing out on stardom completely and I'm sure that stayed with her a long time. She had to be tough and maybe it made her a bit of a grievance collector. "Bubbles" is the kind of autobiographical work that tends to appear while the performer is still active, "Beverly" is the one that settles scores.

Sadly, I cringed when she appeared on the tv screen, anticipating yet another rehash of "Beverly's" own triumphs rather the the unfortunate person who "thought" they were in the spotlight.


I remember that. Sigh.

#29 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,349 posts

Posted 30 April 2010 - 09:25 AM

Sadly, I cringed when she appeared on the tv screen, anticipating yet another rehash of "Beverly's" own triumphs rather the the unfortunate person who "thought" they were in the spotlight.

For me it was the early Met HD broadcasts that made me want to crawl away.

#30 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 30 April 2010 - 10:17 AM

Plagiarism is indeed considered serious, and wasn't there a famous case in the 90s at the New Yorker, I forget the writer's name, Janet something?

Patrick, it was Janet Malcolm I think you are referring to a couple of controversies she was at the center of. One stemmed from her criticisms of the man who headed the Freud archives. He sued for libel, claiming she had made up some of the rather outrageous statements she claimed he had made. in court, Malcolm could not support all of her quotations with notes. I don't recall how this ended, but I remember that later on she found some notes that did support at least part of her claims.

Incidentally, Malcolm has a piece in this week's New Yorker: a fascinating report of a murder trial within the Bukharan Jewish community in Queens. It's a very long piece, and not available online. But here's a summary, with photo of the defendents:
http://www.newyorker...orest Hills[/b]


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):