And it’s only January: French author accused of plagiarism 2X this month!
The famous French patience for charming rapscallionism is, apparently, not endless. Just ask Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, currently embroiled in not one but two nasty (or tasty!) plagiarism scandals.
For the dumb Americans in the audience (and when it comes to things French, that’s all of us, isn’t it?), D’Arvor is something like Dan Rather and Clifford Irving mashed together, with a dash of Bernie Madoff tossed in for je ne sais quois.
Known as PPDA in France (doesn’t that sound like a minor sexually transmitted disease?), he was the nation’s top news anchor for 30 years. That’s despite a 1991 scandal in which PPDA took responses Fidel Castro gave in a press conference and mixed them with footage of himself asking questions. Voila! An exclusive!
Better yet, in 1996 a French court sentenced PPDA to 15 months in prison for his part in a plot to misappropriate public funds in the city of Lyon. The sentence was suspended.
Skipping over various lesser faux pas and embarrassments, the sum of which led to PPDA’s replacement as top news presenter at TFI in 2008: Earlier this month he was accused of “copying” 100 pages of his latest book, a biography of Ernest Hemingway, from Along With Youth, a much-praised 1985 biography by the American writer Peter Griffin.
PPDA’s publisher, Atrhaud, has floated the explanation that a “working draft” of the book was mistakenly released in December, but no one seems to be buying it. French newspapers, which delight in making sport of PPDA, have published excerpts from the two books side by side so readers can see how similar they are. If you read French, here’s L’Express.
As if that’s not humiliating enough, today comes the news PPDA’s former lover, Agathe Borne, has sued him for “violation of privacy and plagiarism” for using her letters in a novel published in 2009. (A quick Google notwithstanding, I can’t track down who exactly Borne is — actress? model? physicist? — but maybe in France a woman can become famous just for being young, pretty and scary-skinny.)
Generally speaking I ignore the French like any patriotic American, so let me defer to a couple of websites where, evidently, attention is paid to Gallic goings-on: Mad About Paris.com prefers ironic amusement: “If you’ve never lived in France, you probably don’t know Patrick Poivre d’Arvor. In which case I feel very sorry for you. You’ve really missed something.”
And at that famously cosmopolitan publication, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, James Lileks delivers an unimprovable verdict on the entire dust-up between Borne and PPDA: “It’s one of those May-Sepulchre relationships.” To judge for yourself, go here.
Let me close by observing that PPDA has apparently written something like three dozen books, not one of which, far as I can see, has appeared in English. Never before have I been grateful for the infamous American distaste for translated literature.