In the controversy surrounding whether Johann Hari should be stripped of the Orwell Prize, the pundits are overlooking another left-wing 'journalist' closely associated with the same award.
This author - who never went to journalism school or even to university - is routinely invoked out as an example of progessive writing.
But a close look at his work indicates he may have just made things up.
For an example, "Shooting an Elephant" details how the author killed an elephant whilst in Burma. The power of its ant-imperialist message is reliant on the detail of the incident. But there was probably no such killing. It was not documented, and nor is there any independent evidence that it occured.
Similarly, the anti-capital punishment piece "A Hanging" depends on its telling detail - the defendant even sidesteps a puddle on the way to the gallows - but it seems the author told someone it was just "a story". Needless to say, no documentary evidence or independent accounts exit.
Most devastatingly, a 'critique' of private education - "Such, such were the joys" - which unlike the above two pieces actually purports to containe verifiiable detail - is dismissed by many children who were there.
As Professor Wikipedia tells us:
"Robert Pearce, researching the papers of another former pupil, made a comprehensive study from the perspective of the school, investigating school records and other pupils' accounts. While some features were universal features of Prep school life, he concluded that [this] depiction bore little relation to reality and that [the author's] defamatory allegations were unsupportable."
This is simply damning.
The author in question has been closely involved with the Orwell Prize since its very inception.
This cannot continue.
His followers know exactly who he is, and so there is no need for me to name him here.
But one thing is certain.
George Orwell must be rolling in his grave.
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