I cannot hear what you say for the thunder that you are

November 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Dear Mr. Maxwell,

I am dreadfully upset by the following coincidence. The Olympia Press (headquartered in Paris) are bringing out LOLITA, a novel of mine, on which I have worked for four years and which is scheduled to appear by September the 1st. Before I sold them the book, it had been seen by Viking, New Directions, Straus and Doubleday, and not only by their readers but also by the friends of their readers. There is a story entitled LOLITA in the last issue of The New Yorker by Dorothy Parker.

Please do find out if the term “coincidence” I have used above needs some qualifications; and in any case would you consider my contributing a note in regard to both Lolitas to your Department of Corrections and Amplification? Or any other appeal, complaint, yelp or distress?  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Delaney Allen

Such shreddes of sentence strewed in the shop

May 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Dear Wikipedia

I am Philip Roth. I had reason recently to read for the first time the Wikipedia entry discussing my novel “The Human Stain.” The entry contains a serious misstatement that I would like to ask to have removed. This item entered Wikipedia not from the world of truthfulness but from the babble of literary gossip—there is no truth in it at all.

Yet when, through an official interlocutor, I recently petitioned Wikipedia to delete this misstatement, along with two others, my interlocutor was told by the “English Wikipedia Administrator”—in a letter dated August 25th and addressed to my interlocutor—that I, Roth, was not a credible source: “I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work,” writes the Wikipedia Administrator—“but we require secondary sources.”

Thus was created the occasion for this open letter. After failing to get a change made through the usual channels, I don’t know how else to proceed.

Roth then goes on to explain that while our article claimed Anatole Broyard was the inspiration, the inspiration was in fact Melvin Tumin.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Jesse Riggins

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