Commenting on my earlier post about academic deception, Mark Anderson drew attention to his piece on "Julian Young's problematic biography of Nietzsche." I asked Anderson why he had not used (as I put it) the p-word in this connection. He replied: "My not using the p-word is not an indication of my conclusions; it has rather to do with the journal's understandable legal concerns." Now Catarina has, in effect, made the charge.
Knowing Julian Young a bit, I find this painful. In my view, a degree of exculpation may be in order. So let me express a reservation.
To take one remarkable instance, he lays Young's description of Nietsche's boyhood school side-by-side with Curtis Cate's. The two are almost the same. It is startling, so much so that this passage would by itself shock most readers. It is interesting, though, that Young's description contains one or two words and details that are absent from Cate's. For example, Young describes the Saale river as "ambling" in a sentence that is otherwise identical to one that appears in Cate's, and mentions that "Fritz sometimes walked home for the holidays." This indicates that either the intrusion of another source, or that Young has personally seen the school. (Of course, I have never seen the Saale: maybe it is actually rushing.)
Anderson then painstakingly and convincingly eliminates other explanations for these parallels, in particular the possibility of common sources. One particularly telling piece of evidence involves (if I have understood correctly) a misunderstanding that results from consulting only Cate's report of a source (Galli), rather than the source itself. I quote at some length:
Young’s report is inaccurate: This Krämer cannot be the Gastwirt, for Galli explicitly contrasts him with the Gastwirt (“Der ältliche Krämer war von feinerer Art als der dicke Gastwirt”). Nor can he be someone other than the shopkeeper Durisch, for “Der Krämer” means, not “Herr Krämer,” but rather “the shopkeeper.” It appears that Young has been confused by his source’s frequent interruption of Galli’s narrative (indicated by no fewer than eight ellipses), which has resulted in his attributing Durisch’s memories of Nietzsche to the Gastwirt. But the memories are in fact Durisch’s, and what Durisch remembers is not that Nietzsche ate too much, but rather that he worked too much (“zu grossen Fleisses”). There is no ambiguity on this point in the original source, especially considering that Durisch immediately elaborates upon his remark by recounting many of the details of Nietzsche’s daily work routine that appear in the parallel passages above. Yet none of these details appears in Young’s source, for they have all been replaced by an ellipsis.
Anderson's explanation of the parallels between Young's text and Cate's is completely convincing. Young simply reproduced Cate, sometimes almost word-for-word, sometimes more indirectly, but relying on Cate's summaries of sources that he, i.e. Young, directly cites, in order to suggest that he was relying on the original source (and not, as it turns out, only on Cate).
This said, I want to ask whether the charge of plagiarism can, at least, be mitigated. Though Anderson emphasizes that he has not discussed every parallel passage, I have to wonder how extensive the copying is. What proportion of this long work is copied in this way? Young has had very severe health problems, and was told at one point that he was dying. He may have felt unduly pressured to finish the book. Perhaps, in his haste, he copied passages without acknowledgement. Just as bad, he pretended that these passages were based on sources that he did not seem to have consulted (at least not in writing the passages in question).
But this is an intellectual biography, and Julian Young has been studying and thinking about Nietzsche for decades. What he did was inexcusable. If his book was a PhD thesis, we would probably fail it (though we might allow him to resubmit, with the problematic passages revised.) However that might be, I would personally not like him to be branded a plagiarist if that is taken to imply that all of his thinking is stolen. At least not without more evidence.
I am not a Nietzsche scholar and I can't make any independent assessment. But to appreciate what I am loath to conclude, contrast this case with that of Hauser's "borrowings" from John Mikhail.