Literature

Hoaxes Within Hoaxes

A literary prankster runs amok.

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Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Eric Naiman tries to unravel a literary hoax—an alleged encounter between Charles Dickens and Fyodor Dostoevsky—and ends up finding a finely woven tapestry of additional hoaxes. The only thing that could make the article any better would be the revelation that "Eric Naiman" is just another pseudonym for the hoaxster. Read it here.

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  1. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH POLITICS I AM SO OUTRAGED

  2. What this shows is that we need more government to expose these literary hoaxes and protect us from them.

    Damn you all for wanting to shrink what keeps us safe!

  3. Eric Naiman: Nicer Mania

  4. This is priceless.

    A long prose section, “Graduate Sex in the Early Seventies”, begins with one of the most unusual responses by a scholar to a critic that one is likely ever to stumble upon: “Twenty-five years before Polly Morris, reviewing one of my books in Journal of the History of Sexuality, ticked me off for appearing to believe that women’s nipples were ‘normally sepia’, I discovered how Jackie M, a natural blond with hair dyed chestnut, had perfectly pink nipples that took on a beige tinge in the cold of my bed-room at 40 Histon Road, Cambridge”.

    1. Wow, what a piece. The tl;dr version: one mysterious and very lonely academic spends decades inventing a web of some half-dozen fictitious scholars who both promote and criticize each other’s work on various subjects. And he sprinkles in some hints which (in context) seem to be meta-commentary about the hoaxster himself.

      Truly bizarre. Impressive amount of research in here too.

      1. Yes, a wonderful read. I love the idea of a slow, subtle, elaborate hoax that people have to figure out many years later.

        1. “In my day, people put some effort into their sockpuppeting!”

  5. That was a really interesting read – thx for posting, Jesse!

  6. I would have rather read about an encounter between Robert E. Howard, HP Lovecraft and William Hope Hodgson

    1. How about writing it?

  7. Excuse me is I missed something for my head is spinning after that, but I wonder what the point of the Dostoevsky fraud was. The other instances fed off each other. This one seemed to stand alone and seemed a bit more puckish or malevolent, I’m not sure which.

    Also, are we sure that the whole article wasn’t stolen from notes for an unpublished Umberto Eco novel?

    1. Grasshopper, you are making progress.

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