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Prince Harry is haunted by his ghostwriter Both have been stung by accusations of inaccuracy

Harry's no Jean-Jacques Rousseau. (Credit: by Andy Stenning - WPA Pool/Getty)

Harry's no Jean-Jacques Rousseau. (Credit: by Andy Stenning - WPA Pool/Getty)


May 12, 2023   6 mins

“The birth of the reader must be at the expense of the death of the author.” So announced the French literary critic Roland Barthes in 1967, indicating what he assumed was the total irrelevance of authorial identity to the appreciation of any literary work. Try telling that to Prince Harry’s ghostwriter though. This week, author J.R. Moehringer came out from behind the scenes and into the spotlight with a long read for the New Yorker, entertainingly describing some of the highs and lows of co-creating the memoir Spare with the Duke of Sussex, as well as outlining his own circuitous life journey towards a career of what basically amounts to ventriloquism on the page.

Along the way, the piece shed some interesting light on the psychology of a ghostwriter. As a promising young journalist, Moehringer was asked to write a gossip column for a colleague at the last minute. There he discovered the thrill of writing under a different name: “a kind of hiding and seeking” that liberated him to write more freely. Later, he accepted a commission from tennis star Andre Agassi to co-write what eventually would become the well-received autobiography Open — to be the ghost, if not in the machine then in the text.

Alchemically, through close collaboration with Agassi, a book slowly emerged. Moehringer was somehow both a presence and an absence within it:

“He made countless fixes, and I made fixes to his fixes, and together we made ten thousand more, and in time we arrived at a draft that satisfied us both. The collaboration was so close, so synchronous, you’d have to call the eventual voice of the memoir a hybrid — though it’s all Andre.”

Afterwards, watching Agassi receiving praise for the book’s writing in an interview, he found himself chafing at his anonymity and shouting at the television: “Say my name! Say my fucking name!” In a sense, his New Yorker piece can be read in the same spirit. In a world of great big show-offs, it’s hard for a ghost to stay invisible.

As I read his piece, I started to muse on the role of the autobiographical ghostwriter and felt more and more baffled. In reading an autobiography, there’s a fantasy of getting immediate and intimate access to the author’s mind, hot off the synapses. Sophisticated readers know that most people are unreliable narrators of their own lives. They also know that nearly all books have editors and so are to some extent co-created. Yet with an autobiography, they still expect relatively untrammelled access to the inner life of the book’s subject. After all, if you were interested only in the specific events of a person’s life as he or she very roughly saw them, you might just as well have waited for an authorised biography written by someone else.

Yet the felt presence of a ghostwriter undermines the fantasy of merging deliciously with a celebrity subject’s mind — for you know that someone else stands in your way, cutting you off from the coveted source. Someone else did the mind-merging first and it wasn’t you. And now you are not so much reading a celebrity’s thoughts directly, as reading the thoughts of someone else about those thoughts, no matter what it says on the cover.

In Spare, the presence of that someone else would always have been fairly obvious, even without his name having been leaked to the press. Despite the posh inflections, the book’s sentences are often reminiscent of Chandler or Hemingway — a well-polished American style, compressed and taut, muscular jaw trembling ever so slightly from the effort of pushing down emotional darkness (of which Harry apparently has quite a lot). Yet Hemingway is Moehringer’s literary hero, not Harry’s. In order to have literary heroes, Harry would have had to read some books.

Yet more implausible is the vision of Harry styled as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, at one point musing in Spare that “each new identity assumes the throne of Self, but takes us further from our original self, perhaps our core self — the child”; and adding that “there’s a purity to childhood, which is diluted with each iteration”. It’s a relief when, only a few pages later, he reverts to telling us about the plight of his frostbitten todger. “I went to the North Pole and now my South Pole is on the fritz”. Now that sounds more like our Hazza.

Moehringer seems a bit conflicted about what his role is, precisely. Early on, we learn of an argument he had with Harry about whether or not to include what the Prince assumed was a witty comeback to someone or other. Moehringer demurred, telling him: “You want the world to know that you did a good job, that you were smart. But, strange as it may seem, memoir isn’t about you. It’s not even the story of your life. It’s a story carved from your life, a particular series of events chosen because they have the greatest resonance for the widest range of people.”

This is a vision of the ghostwriter as puppet-master, overriding the communicative wishes of the subject in order to craft an aesthetically satisfying object for the readership. As Julian Assange once percipiently said to Andrew O’Hagan, contracted to be the ghost author of a book about Assange that never came off: “People think you’re helping me write my book, but actually I’m helping you write your novel.”

Elsewhere though, Moehringer seems more sympathetic to the idea of the ghost author as a releaser of trapped celebrity wind, helping inarticulate public figures achieve psychological relief through the telling of their own versions of events. Agassi “wanted to tell his story but didn’t know how”. Moehringer wanted to “cure” him — to give him “grace”. Desperate to set the record straight after thousands of lurid press distortions, on the publication of Spare Harry thanked his ghost in tears, saying how “it felt incredible to have the truth out there”.

Moehringer even indicates that he too has suffered from an inability to tell his own “story” until now — unable, that is, to answer the many critics of Spare who uncharitably have accused him of sloppiness, inaccuracy, or flat-out lying. He portentously concludes: “If you don’t tell your story you lose it — or, what might be worse, you get lost inside it. Telling is how we cement details, preserve continuity, stay sane. We say ourselves into being every day, or else.”

This sort of thought, firmly in the grand American tradition of loquacity in the name of authenticity, is hardly new — but in the current landscape it strikes me as very old-fashioned. Maybe there once was a more innocent time, when an autobiography or memoir could set out a new version of the facts in a way that silenced previous critics and brought sceptics round. If so, that time seems to have passed. For that sort of world to still exist, the critics and sceptics would have to have open minds, and to feel some sort of responsibility towards the truth as a value in its own right. Or at least, they would have to fear the consequences of getting things wrong in public. This is not the world we live in now.

Instead, we have a world where nearly everyone is online to offer endless comment, where bad news travels fastest, and where there is barely any social cost to getting something wrong about another person. Quite the contrary — there is a lot of low-level social capital to be made about being judgemental about a public figure or just plain vicious. In that case, others who share your dislike for the hapless figure in question will swarm round like flies to honey, and you will all bolster each other in the search for new ways to shore up your initial interpretation. And the first-personal idiom of autobiography won’t help. There is something about the sight of someone trying to personally defend herself from critics that drives those critics wild with renewed savagery. Take it from me.

In this context, public figures already polarising enough to have developed a burning sense of injustice about misrepresentation of themselves in the past are unlikely to be able to change anyone’s mind about them in the future, no matter what new material they put out there. The fans, if any, will remain fans, the detractors will remain detractors, and those on the fence won’t know who to believe either way.

At most, in writing your “story” you will just provide a whole lot of new material for your enemies to plunder for ammunition. Moehringer himself gives a good example of this, recounting how, stung by accusations of inaccuracy in the book (about a TK Maxx sale, of all things), he put out a series of veiled but meaningful tweets about the partial way memory sometimes works. “My tweets were seized upon, deliberately misinterpreted by trolls, and turned into headlines by real news outlets. Harry’s ghostwriter admits the book is all lies.”

It would be a mistake to think that this only could happen to veiled subtweets — that, if Moehringer had said more, the ambiguity would have somehow dissipated. Misinterpretation can happen to any sentence of yours; any paragraph; any chapter; any book. There is nothing you could ever say in print, or indeed out loud, that couldn’t be misrepresented by interested others as evil, stupid, or risible in a way that will seem believable to many. The trick is to know this, and not to go mad in the knowledge.

Moehringer tells us that as “Borges dreamed of endless libraries, Harry dreams of endless retractions”. It is not in the publishing industry’s interests to tell him, and any others in a similar situation, to stop dreaming. Given he signed a four-book deal, I predict there will be at least one more memoir from Harry in our lifetimes, attempting to set the record straight yet again post-Spare and the latest round of interpretative indignities. And perhaps there will be others too after that. It’s a good time to be a ghostwriter to the famous and misunderstood.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

Advice to Harry…. When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
Harry’s problem is he’s a stupid person who thinks he’s smart.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Shaw
Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Which explains why he married a woman of like mind!

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

No – in Spare he makes fun of his lack of intelligence – just as his mother would laughingly call herself ‘thick’.
The difference is Diana had excellent instincts and Harry does not.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Which explains why he married a woman of like mind!

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

No – in Spare he makes fun of his lack of intelligence – just as his mother would laughingly call herself ‘thick’.
The difference is Diana had excellent instincts and Harry does not.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

Advice to Harry…. When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
Harry’s problem is he’s a stupid person who thinks he’s smart.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Shaw
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Identity itself is the subject of this piece.

I don’t think it can be any coincidence that when we’re all able to engage in the forging (pun intended?) and re-forging of ourselves in the online world, or in Harry’s case published media in general, that the rise in the phenomenon of self-ID has occurred; the two may well be very closely intertwined.

It’s not so much that the physical manifestation of those who seek to change their gender identity has become easier through surgery and pharmaceuticals, as that the very idea of the malleabllity of our identity has come to the fore as we engage with media, social or otherwise.

Harry’s identity – the story of his inner life – is itself no longer his own and KS does a superb job of exploring this through the example afforded by his having had a ghostwritten autobiography published. Something similar may be happening to us all, and the misinterpretations that occur (these Comments pages being a good example) according to preconceptions become part of our own stories.

Do we change in subtle ways, by our participation? If so, when adolescents are trying to form an identity, does their engagement with the online world – something unthinkable to previous generations – create the conditions whereby they believe they’re able to create any identity they wish, and act accordingly, even to the extent of attempting their physical transformation?

Perhaps that’s also why younger people find it so much easier to accept the chosen identities of their peers, pronouns included. KS offers very valuable insights into this Brave New World, and its effects can only continue to expand and reverberate in all our lives.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Vicha Unkow
Vicha Unkow
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

People who screw with other peoples lives with their interpretations and know it all need to write their own books so we can see how illiterate they are. Ghost writing should be illegal with out their names on the books, this way they aren’t liable during lawsuits.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vicha Unkow
Vicha Unkow
Vicha Unkow
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

People who screw with other peoples lives with their interpretations and know it all need to write their own books so we can see how illiterate they are. Ghost writing should be illegal with out their names on the books, this way they aren’t liable during lawsuits.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vicha Unkow
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Identity itself is the subject of this piece.

I don’t think it can be any coincidence that when we’re all able to engage in the forging (pun intended?) and re-forging of ourselves in the online world, or in Harry’s case published media in general, that the rise in the phenomenon of self-ID has occurred; the two may well be very closely intertwined.

It’s not so much that the physical manifestation of those who seek to change their gender identity has become easier through surgery and pharmaceuticals, as that the very idea of the malleabllity of our identity has come to the fore as we engage with media, social or otherwise.

Harry’s identity – the story of his inner life – is itself no longer his own and KS does a superb job of exploring this through the example afforded by his having had a ghostwritten autobiography published. Something similar may be happening to us all, and the misinterpretations that occur (these Comments pages being a good example) according to preconceptions become part of our own stories.

Do we change in subtle ways, by our participation? If so, when adolescents are trying to form an identity, does their engagement with the online world – something unthinkable to previous generations – create the conditions whereby they believe they’re able to create any identity they wish, and act accordingly, even to the extent of attempting their physical transformation?

Perhaps that’s also why younger people find it so much easier to accept the chosen identities of their peers, pronouns included. KS offers very valuable insights into this Brave New World, and its effects can only continue to expand and reverberate in all our lives.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Kathleen Stock is too smart to be wasting her time on these no marks.
In general, I’m not interested in reading ghost written stuff. If people can’t write at least part of it themselves, they probably aren’t that interesting or original. But I suppose if it’s all made up anyway, it may not matter who writes it.
One of the great things about the comments here is that they aren’t ghost-written (Russian bots aside) and people say stuff which is worth reading.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I know what you mean, but i think KS is using the example of Harry’s book to tell a wider story, making a far more serious point about our identity in both the online/media world and in real life (IRL), a topic she visits in much of her work. Indeed, she touches on her own experience at one point, by way of illustration.

Her critics, she seems to suggest, have identities IRL which render them immune to whatever she says, since their very being is made up through opposition to her views.

The key message therefore is how our identities are in danger of being submerged beneath the preconceptions which arise once we’re engaged in the realm of media, and that includes almost everyone now to a greater or lesser degree. Identity itself is the subject of this piece; Harry and his ghostwriter merely the vehicles by which she conveys the complexities we would do well to ponder upon, not least those who contribute regularly to these Comments sections.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

“In general, I’m not interested in reading ghost written stuff. If people can’t write at least part of it themselves, they probably aren’t that interesting or original.”
This is a good thought, though I don’t quite endorse it. I think every human is a novel, every life has the essential drama of the human condition, and a good literary stylist can bring it out of any life.
Recently I’ve been reading light memoirs from two relatively obscure mid-century British figures – Roy Hattersley and Claud Cockburn – not because I have any particular interest in their lives but because they express themselves well.
If we are interested in the life of Prince Harry (I’m not, but I don’t disparage those who are), it’s not because he has “more” of the human condition to share than we non-celebrities. No, I think it’s because a wider range of people know about his life, and so by learning more about him we enter into a broader conversation. ‘Celebrity’ exists to give us a common narrative in which to discuss our universal stories.
Having said all that, I bet Prince Harry’s memoir would’ve been a lot more interesting with a lighter editorial touch. Harry’s (apparent) goal of a transparent relationship with the adoring masses would’ve been better achieved. Admittedly, we fancy-pants types would be guffawing at him more, and he would’ve failed to impress people with his intellect – but maybe he would’ve gotten to know himself a bit better, too.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
James Jenkin
James Jenkin
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Peter, surely “Is this really the writer speaking to me” is an interesting question

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Absolutely agree. My personal library contains many wonderful autobiographies, including those of David Niven, Alec Guinness, Peter O’Toole (who signed his first at a West End stage door for me), and Stephen Fry, just to name a few. These splendid actors were/are also capable, witty, engaging writers and it’s a pleasure to read their stories in their words.
The excerpts I read of “ Spare” were obviously written in someone else’s voice, so I wondered why anyone would bother reading what is essentially pity PR – something the prince’s mother excelled in. Diana was right: William is like his father, and Harry is just like her. She didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Last edited 1 year ago by Allison Barrows
Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago

Good comments. Many, though perhaps not here, would disagree with your last point by seeing it as a dig, by Diana, at Charles. However I agree with your interpretation but this only goes to prove K’s point that we look for and read stuff only to “search for new ways to shore up one’s initial interpretation”

Last edited 1 year ago by Rick Lawrence
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Lawrence

When she made the comment, she was referring to William being “smart, like Charles” (an arguable assertion, I’ll admit), and Harry being brainless, “like me”. That doesn’t sound terribly complimentary.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Lawrence

When she made the comment, she was referring to William being “smart, like Charles” (an arguable assertion, I’ll admit), and Harry being brainless, “like me”. That doesn’t sound terribly complimentary.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago

Interesting — of the entire universe of remarkable people who write their own memoirs, you choose to spend hours, if not weeks, reading the “thoughts” of actors?

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago

Good comments. Many, though perhaps not here, would disagree with your last point by seeing it as a dig, by Diana, at Charles. However I agree with your interpretation but this only goes to prove K’s point that we look for and read stuff only to “search for new ways to shore up one’s initial interpretation”

Last edited 1 year ago by Rick Lawrence
Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago

Interesting — of the entire universe of remarkable people who write their own memoirs, you choose to spend hours, if not weeks, reading the “thoughts” of actors?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Why should Andre Agassi or Phil Knight be able to write creatively and well?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

They shouldn’t be expected to, but the books about them aren’t autobiographies if they’re ghost written. They’re “as told tos”.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago

Then what ever happened to the concept of an authorized biography, such as the one by that great British author, Omid Scobie?

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago

Then what ever happened to the concept of an authorized biography, such as the one by that great British author, Omid Scobie?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Perhaps I was a little free with the words. What I’m really looking for is someone who’s done their own thinking and has something interesting and useful to say. People who fit this bill usually are able to express themselves in a clear and interesting way. But perhaps not always. Andre Agassi seemed to have no problem expressing himself from what I recall. Perhaps I ought to read his book.
It’s not the help I really object to. It’s the sense that you’re not getting the true picture – or that you’re wasting your time.
But perhaps “Spare” with its ghostwriter and naked distortions is actually giving a “true and fair” picture of Harry. Either way, I already know quite enough and I’m not going to read it.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I probably agree… I don’t know why this concept was introduced. Maybe it is a biography with a close collaboration with the relevant person. It is no secret that Moehringer wrote these books. I won’t read Spare, but Open and Shoe Dog are page turners.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I probably agree… I don’t know why this concept was introduced. Maybe it is a biography with a close collaboration with the relevant person. It is no secret that Moehringer wrote these books. I won’t read Spare, but Open and Shoe Dog are page turners.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

They shouldn’t be expected to, but the books about them aren’t autobiographies if they’re ghost written. They’re “as told tos”.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Perhaps I was a little free with the words. What I’m really looking for is someone who’s done their own thinking and has something interesting and useful to say. People who fit this bill usually are able to express themselves in a clear and interesting way. But perhaps not always. Andre Agassi seemed to have no problem expressing himself from what I recall. Perhaps I ought to read his book.
It’s not the help I really object to. It’s the sense that you’re not getting the true picture – or that you’re wasting your time.
But perhaps “Spare” with its ghostwriter and naked distortions is actually giving a “true and fair” picture of Harry. Either way, I already know quite enough and I’m not going to read it.

David rensin
David rensin
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Being interesting or original does not mean you can write your way out of a paper bag. Sometimes you need help. There’s nothing wrong with helping someone, who is not by trade a writer, tell her or his compelling story.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago
Reply to  David rensin

All good, then don’t call it an autobiography.” “Auto” in that context means “self.”

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  David rensin

I’m reminded of an Oscar Wilde quote that rather stuck in the memory: “Anyone can make history, but it takes a great man to write it”.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago
Reply to  David rensin

All good, then don’t call it an autobiography.” “Auto” in that context means “self.”

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  David rensin

I’m reminded of an Oscar Wilde quote that rather stuck in the memory: “Anyone can make history, but it takes a great man to write it”.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

It would have been vastly more interesting if Harry had actually written it. Then we would know what he is really like.

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

That he can’t spele, porbably.

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

That he can’t spele, porbably.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I know what you mean, but i think KS is using the example of Harry’s book to tell a wider story, making a far more serious point about our identity in both the online/media world and in real life (IRL), a topic she visits in much of her work. Indeed, she touches on her own experience at one point, by way of illustration.

Her critics, she seems to suggest, have identities IRL which render them immune to whatever she says, since their very being is made up through opposition to her views.

The key message therefore is how our identities are in danger of being submerged beneath the preconceptions which arise once we’re engaged in the realm of media, and that includes almost everyone now to a greater or lesser degree. Identity itself is the subject of this piece; Harry and his ghostwriter merely the vehicles by which she conveys the complexities we would do well to ponder upon, not least those who contribute regularly to these Comments sections.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

“In general, I’m not interested in reading ghost written stuff. If people can’t write at least part of it themselves, they probably aren’t that interesting or original.”
This is a good thought, though I don’t quite endorse it. I think every human is a novel, every life has the essential drama of the human condition, and a good literary stylist can bring it out of any life.
Recently I’ve been reading light memoirs from two relatively obscure mid-century British figures – Roy Hattersley and Claud Cockburn – not because I have any particular interest in their lives but because they express themselves well.
If we are interested in the life of Prince Harry (I’m not, but I don’t disparage those who are), it’s not because he has “more” of the human condition to share than we non-celebrities. No, I think it’s because a wider range of people know about his life, and so by learning more about him we enter into a broader conversation. ‘Celebrity’ exists to give us a common narrative in which to discuss our universal stories.
Having said all that, I bet Prince Harry’s memoir would’ve been a lot more interesting with a lighter editorial touch. Harry’s (apparent) goal of a transparent relationship with the adoring masses would’ve been better achieved. Admittedly, we fancy-pants types would be guffawing at him more, and he would’ve failed to impress people with his intellect – but maybe he would’ve gotten to know himself a bit better, too.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
James Jenkin
James Jenkin
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Peter, surely “Is this really the writer speaking to me” is an interesting question

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Absolutely agree. My personal library contains many wonderful autobiographies, including those of David Niven, Alec Guinness, Peter O’Toole (who signed his first at a West End stage door for me), and Stephen Fry, just to name a few. These splendid actors were/are also capable, witty, engaging writers and it’s a pleasure to read their stories in their words.
The excerpts I read of “ Spare” were obviously written in someone else’s voice, so I wondered why anyone would bother reading what is essentially pity PR – something the prince’s mother excelled in. Diana was right: William is like his father, and Harry is just like her. She didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Last edited 1 year ago by Allison Barrows
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Why should Andre Agassi or Phil Knight be able to write creatively and well?

David rensin
David rensin
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Being interesting or original does not mean you can write your way out of a paper bag. Sometimes you need help. There’s nothing wrong with helping someone, who is not by trade a writer, tell her or his compelling story.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

It would have been vastly more interesting if Harry had actually written it. Then we would know what he is really like.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Kathleen Stock is too smart to be wasting her time on these no marks.
In general, I’m not interested in reading ghost written stuff. If people can’t write at least part of it themselves, they probably aren’t that interesting or original. But I suppose if it’s all made up anyway, it may not matter who writes it.
One of the great things about the comments here is that they aren’t ghost-written (Russian bots aside) and people say stuff which is worth reading.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago

What surprises me the most reading this is that KS actually read “waaah”.

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

I wish we had a “LoL” icon. LoL anyway.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago
Reply to  Harry Phillips

Thanks — I hope the website manager is listening

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago
Reply to  Harry Phillips

Thanks — I hope the website manager is listening

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

I don’t think she read the book, but the long article by J.Moehringer in the New Yorker.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago

That would make sense.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago

That would make sense.

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

I wish we had a “LoL” icon. LoL anyway.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

I don’t think she read the book, but the long article by J.Moehringer in the New Yorker.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago

What surprises me the most reading this is that KS actually read “waaah”.

Eric Mader
Eric Mader
1 year ago

FFS, who cares about this guy? Why is any serious writer actually writing about him?
Please, Kathleen Stock, please, UnHerd–do the right thing. Leave Harry where he belongs. In utter silence.

Last edited 1 year ago by Eric Mader
Eric Mader
Eric Mader
1 year ago

FFS, who cares about this guy? Why is any serious writer actually writing about him?
Please, Kathleen Stock, please, UnHerd–do the right thing. Leave Harry where he belongs. In utter silence.

Last edited 1 year ago by Eric Mader
Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago

Many thanks, Dr. Stock. You are enlightening and engaging on every topic you tackle. I like the irony in your Roland Barthes quotation: “The birth of the reader must be at the expense of the death of the author.” Many would dismiss the quote as pretentious twaddle if it were anonymous, but assume that it must be profound because they know its author to be Roland Barthes.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
1 year ago

Not for me – I had to look him up.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

The point about irony is that it is Roland Barthes himself who did not appreciate how people react. The irony does not depend on whether you have heard of him.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

The point about irony is that it is Roland Barthes himself who did not appreciate how people react. The irony does not depend on whether you have heard of him.

David Shipley
David Shipley
1 year ago

On the other hand some such as myself would dismiss it as pretentious twaddle because its author was Roland Barthes. The same would go for Jacques Derrida or Michel Foucauld.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago
Reply to  David Shipley

That is an interesting opinion, but has no effect on whether or not Barthes’ remark might be considered to be ironic. It would only cease to be ironic if everyone shared your opinion of him.

David Shipley
David Shipley
1 year ago

It might actually be more ironic, if someone generally viewed as a purveyor of pretentious twaddle said something profound. Like Rumsfeld and his known unknowns etc.

Last edited 1 year ago by David Shipley
Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago
Reply to  David Shipley

For a remark to be truly ironic, the speaker must be unaware of the alternative interpretation. My all-time favourite example is John Prescott, in the Commons in 1998, introducing legislation that everyone realised would undermine green belt building restrictions: “The Green Belt is a Labour achievement and we intend to build on it”.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago
Reply to  David Shipley

For a remark to be truly ironic, the speaker must be unaware of the alternative interpretation. My all-time favourite example is John Prescott, in the Commons in 1998, introducing legislation that everyone realised would undermine green belt building restrictions: “The Green Belt is a Labour achievement and we intend to build on it”.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Kwasi-Modo
David Shipley
David Shipley
1 year ago

It might actually be more ironic, if someone generally viewed as a purveyor of pretentious twaddle said something profound. Like Rumsfeld and his known unknowns etc.

Last edited 1 year ago by David Shipley
Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago
Reply to  David Shipley

That is an interesting opinion, but has no effect on whether or not Barthes’ remark might be considered to be ironic. It would only cease to be ironic if everyone shared your opinion of him.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
1 year ago

Not for me – I had to look him up.

David Shipley
David Shipley
1 year ago

On the other hand some such as myself would dismiss it as pretentious twaddle because its author was Roland Barthes. The same would go for Jacques Derrida or Michel Foucauld.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago

Many thanks, Dr. Stock. You are enlightening and engaging on every topic you tackle. I like the irony in your Roland Barthes quotation: “The birth of the reader must be at the expense of the death of the author.” Many would dismiss the quote as pretentious twaddle if it were anonymous, but assume that it must be profound because they know its author to be Roland Barthes.

Judy Kaplan Warner
Judy Kaplan Warner
1 year ago

I wonder if it is inevitable these days that every ghostwriter should be revealed. It wasn’t always that way. I myself used to write fundraising letters over the signature of one or another politician and I thought it would be very crass to ever mention publicly that I was the writer when a couple of the times a letter of mine was quoted somewhere. Then Peggy Noonan decided to announce to the world that she was the author of some speeches of President GHW Bush, especially some much quoted phrases. (I think “a thousand points of light” was one of them.) She got considerable publicity and TV appearances for her revelation, which I suppose was her motive. I was simply aghast. Of course we all know that most politicians don’t write their own speeches or books, but I thought there was a tacit agreement that the speechwriter was being paid for a service that included letting people assume that the speech *was* written by the person who gave it, or at least waited until it became irrelevant. I still feel this way.

Judy Kaplan Warner
Judy Kaplan Warner
1 year ago

I wonder if it is inevitable these days that every ghostwriter should be revealed. It wasn’t always that way. I myself used to write fundraising letters over the signature of one or another politician and I thought it would be very crass to ever mention publicly that I was the writer when a couple of the times a letter of mine was quoted somewhere. Then Peggy Noonan decided to announce to the world that she was the author of some speeches of President GHW Bush, especially some much quoted phrases. (I think “a thousand points of light” was one of them.) She got considerable publicity and TV appearances for her revelation, which I suppose was her motive. I was simply aghast. Of course we all know that most politicians don’t write their own speeches or books, but I thought there was a tacit agreement that the speechwriter was being paid for a service that included letting people assume that the speech *was* written by the person who gave it, or at least waited until it became irrelevant. I still feel this way.

James Kirk
James Kirk
1 year ago

One of the rules for authors is to not lean over the readers shoulder and explain things. In this case he leaans over Harry’s shoulder. Anyone interested in what Harry thinks would be better served by a biography with quotes. It would still be ridiculed.

James Kirk
James Kirk
1 year ago

One of the rules for authors is to not lean over the readers shoulder and explain things. In this case he leaans over Harry’s shoulder. Anyone interested in what Harry thinks would be better served by a biography with quotes. It would still be ridiculed.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

I thought that only footballers needed ghostwriters

David Lawrence
David Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Not so much footballers as brainless twerps.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  David Lawrence

That’s no way to talk about my heroes

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  David Lawrence

That’s no way to talk about my heroes

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
David Lawrence
David Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Not so much footballers as brainless twerps.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

I thought that only footballers needed ghostwriters

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Moehringer was the ghostwriter of 2 excellent biographies – Open and Shoe Dog and I hope he does more. Why do we have to overthink this because the whining Sussex is now involved.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Moehringer was the ghostwriter of 2 excellent biographies – Open and Shoe Dog and I hope he does more. Why do we have to overthink this because the whining Sussex is now involved.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago

Whatever happened to the old but decidedly honest practice of having the authorship honestly clarified: “Spare, as told to J.R. Moehringer”?

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
1 year ago

Whatever happened to the old but decidedly honest practice of having the authorship honestly clarified: “Spare, as told to J.R. Moehringer”?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

The white shirt that he is wearing in the photo tells one all that we need to know…

james goater
james goater
1 year ago

Is KS’s splendid line: “In order to have literary heroes, Harry would have had to read some books” similarly revealing?

james goater
james goater
1 year ago

Is KS’s splendid line: “In order to have literary heroes, Harry would have had to read some books” similarly revealing?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

The white shirt that he is wearing in the photo tells one all that we need to know…

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
1 year ago

May God save Prince Harry.
May God save J.R. from being tempted into falsehood. Four books encompasses a long time of indentured servitude, rather like a literary knighthood. Is J.R. noble enough to last that long?

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
1 year ago

May God save Prince Harry.
May God save J.R. from being tempted into falsehood. Four books encompasses a long time of indentured servitude, rather like a literary knighthood. Is J.R. noble enough to last that long?

Roger Tilbury
Roger Tilbury
1 year ago

“In order to have literary heroes, Harry would have had to read some books.”
LOL

Roger Tilbury
Roger Tilbury
1 year ago

“In order to have literary heroes, Harry would have had to read some books.”
LOL

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
10 months ago

Old Foot Guards joke… ” Man goes to surgeon for a brain transplant… Surgeon tells him that there are three available brains… a £50, OOOO brain, a £75000 brain and a £250,000 brain… namely, an Oxford don’s, a Harvard philosopher, and the most expensive a Household Cavalry Officer’s. The man asks, ‘ why on earth is the Household Cavalry Officers so expensive?” to which the surgeon replies ” It’s never ever been used”…..

Phineas Bury
Phineas Bury
1 year ago

Far too long and get to the point

Phineas Bury
Phineas Bury
1 year ago

Far too long and get to the point