Saturday, December 3, 2011


ASEBL Journal Announces a SPECIAL ISSUE to 
COMMEMORATE The 200th BIRTH ANNIVERSARY [2012] OF CHARLES DICKENS

“George Orwell Charges Charles Dickens with Plagiarism:
Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged”
by
George Steven Swan, S.J.D.
Associate Professor, NC A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C.

What follows is the abstract by Dr. Swan. Read the full article (both erudite and entertaining) here, in either PDF or ISSUU format.

George Orwell charged plagiarism (unconscious or otherwise) against Charles Dickens. Orwell identified a story recited by Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers character Sam Weller, and alleged that its source was an ancient Greek author. Orwell reconstructs from his schooldays-memory this unnamed Greek’s prior version. These two items do share a resemblance. But Orwell’s tale derived from a Greek composition text by Arthur Sidgwick. The Sidgwick work having been published following the death of Dickens, Dickens is exonerated of the Orwell accusation. Sidgwick synopsized Weller’s story for students of Greek to translate. Orwell’s misindictment recalls a parallel to Sidgwick’s exploitation of Dickens’s Weller. For this text, presumably from Orwell’s own schooldays, included a summarization of Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Not later than 1900, Twain knew himself to be a source exploited by Sidgwick. Yet Twain never cried plagiarism.

Ironically, Orwell himself was to implant into Nineteen Eighty-Four both a story-scenario and multiple details found in a novel by Roger Peyrefitte, Les Amitiés Particuliéres. Literate in French, Orwell definitely drew upon other French material in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Peyrefitte’s novel had been published in 1943 and 1945. Peyrefitte’s book was reviewed in Horizon during July 1946 by Orwell’s onetime-mistress and future-wife, Sonia Brownell. Editorially assisted by Sonia was Horizon’s lifelong friend Cyril Connolly. Horizon, Brownell and Connolly in July 1946 all tend to associate Orwell with Peyrefitte’s book. Orwell began Nineteen Eighty-Four around August 1946.

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