Tuesday, September 4, 2012

R.J. Ellory and Andrew Delbanco---a Case in Ethics and Casuistry


Here is an interesting case for the literary and legal casuistry. In this sensational case a crime writer is exposed for having written 5 star reviews of his own books on AMAZON under a variety of pseudonyms while at the same time writing disparaging reviews of his rivals.

I am racking my balding head to see how this differs from the case of a biographer-to-be (working from other biographies) who condemns a biography based on decades of archival work. His accusation is that the biographer faked episodes in the writer's life. Then then in his own biography the reviewer casually mentions the reality of what he had called a fantasy. 

This reviewer had gone to the extreme in his review of saying that the whole biography was unreliable because the writer had presented two episodes as fact when they had no factual basis.

I am talking about Andrew Delbanco, who in the NEW REPUBLIC in 2002 said that I had merely surmised the existence of THE ISLE OF THE CROSS and POEMS. Then a few years later Delbanco miraculously learned that they had indeed existed and briefly refers to them in his own biography, with, of course, no apology.

By then the damage to my reputation had been done. One example of the damage: Alan Helms in a slander widely reprinted promptly quoted Delbanco as his authority for finding me a "slippery fish" with evidence.

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