Author admits faking Dylan quotes

Tue, Jul 31, 2012, 01:00

A staff writer for the New Yorker magazine resigned yesterday after admitting he had made up quotes from singer and songwriter Bob Dylan in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Science journalist and author Jonah Lehrer became the latest nonfiction writer to admit making up material, saying in a statement released yesterday by the book's publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, that he had lied to a journalist for online publication Tablet who had questioned Lehrer several weeks ago about the authenticity of quotes in a section devoted to Dylan.

The inquiry by reporter Michael Moynihan followed earlier allegations that Lehrer had repurposed quotes in several New Yorker blogs.

"The quotes in question either did not exist, were unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes," Lehrer said.

He also admitted to lying to Moynihan by initially telling the Tablet reporter that the quotes were authentic and taken from archival interview footage provided by Dylan's representatives.

"This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said," he said. "The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologise to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers."

Lehrer said he had also resigned from his position at the New Yorker.

"This is a terrifically sad situation, but, in the end, what is most important is the integrity of what we publish and what we stand for," said New Yorker editor David Remnick.

Other books - mostly memoirs - that have caused controversy for being fakes in past 10 years include James Frey's A Million Little Pieces and Herman Rosenblat's cancelled 2009 holocaust memoir, Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived.

Most publishers say they rely on authors to tell the truth.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said in its statement, "In light of the serious misuse of quotations" in Imagine, "we are exploring all options available to us. We are taking the e-book of Imagine off-sale, and halting shipment of physical copies."

Among other publishing scandals, Jayson Blair famously resigned from the New York Times in 2003 amid charges of plagiarism, and Stephen Glass fabricated a number of stories for the New Republic magazine in the late 1990s before he was discovered.


Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.