[ilds] K. K. Ruthven and L. G. Durrell

Godshalk, William (godshawl) godshawl at ucmail.uc.edu
Wed Jun 23 10:11:10 PDT 2010

Yes, I m a mixer. No doubt about it. But I do try to identify the artists I'm mixing. I did see Hegemann's picture.

But during the mixing process, I am a bit amazed at the amount of mixing done in the scholarly world -- that's not footnoted.

And the computer has made mixing more available.

OK Durrell as mixer. Sounds like an article to me.

W. L. Godshalk *
Department of English    *           *
University of Cincinnati*   * Stellar Disorder  *
OH 45221-0069 *  *
From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Bruce Redwine [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 1:49 PM
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Cc: Bruce Redwine
Subject: [ilds] K. K. Ruthven and L. G. Durrell


Thanks for your review of Ruthven's Faking Literature.  I suppose Ruthven would put L. Durrell under your heading (9):  "writers who plagiarize (e.g., Shakespeare incorporating into Antony and Cleopatra phrases from North's translation of Plutarch's Lives)."  That would surely please old LD; he likes to be in the company of Shakespeare, as seen in the poem, "The Critics."

Another book on this topic is William Ian Miller's Faking It (Cambridge 2003).  Have you read it?  I haven't, but it looks promising.  Miller holds a Ph.D. in English (sadly), a J.D., and a professorship at the U. of Michigan School of Law.  I've heard him speak.  He's good.

I'm not sure where we've arrived in this discussion, but here's one final comment on lying, faking it, self-mythologizing, plagiarizing, etc.  Back on 12 February 2010, The New York Times had a story about a young German author, Helene Hegemann, who wrote a bestseller, Axolotl Roadkill.  A German blogger later discovered that sections of her book had been lifted verbatim from another author's work (an entire page, in one instance, with few changes), without a hint of accreditation.  Was Ms. Hegemann bothered by the charge of plagiarism?  No.  She advocates  it.  The Times calls the literary technique "mixing" and reports, "she has also defended herself as the representative of a different generation, one that freely mixes and matches from the whirring flood of information across new and old media, to create something new."  Ms. Hegemann is wrong.  Her methodology is not as new as she thinks.


On Jun 21, 2010, at 11:45 AM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:

Just checked ABE. You can get a copy of Faking Literature for lest than 5 bucks plus potsage on ABEbooks.

And I attach my review:

K.K. Ruthven, Faking Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001. PB A$49.95
In his Prologue, Ruthven preemptively claims that literary forgeries "constitute a powerful indictment of such cultural practices as literary reviewing" (4), that is, of the review you are now reading. In his first chapter, "Sampling the spurious," Ruthven briefly reviews selected literary deceivers from the eighteenth century to the 1990s, with major attention to James Macpherson, whose Ossianic material Ruthven calls "Macphossian." "Macphossian," writes Ruthven, "remains the key text for analysts of literary forgery because it generated two quite different phenomena: an 'Ossianic controversy' about the authenticity of the Gaelic materials mediated by Macpherson's 'translation,' and an enormous cult readership which felt free to ignore that controversy because it knew what it liked" (13). In the next chapter, "Framing literary forgery," Ruthven discusses the "overlapping descriptors that constitute our understanding" of literary spuriosity (34). He believes that we tend to!
 see literary deceptions as "forgeries," "fakes," "hoaxes," and so on, words which predispose us to see these deceptions in certain ways: "an analogy designed to illuminate something may have opprobrious consequences" (41). He also points out that much depends on "whether the organising term for such enquiries [into literary deception] is 'similarity' or 'difference'" (60), uniformity or discontinuity.
       Chapter 3, "Cultivating spuriosity," deals with post-structuralist critical theory's challenges to traditional assumptions about "authority, originality, authenticity and value," and with Lyontard's concept of the postmodern condition which "enables us to see literary forgeries as in some ways normalised by the spuriosities of everyday life" (63).  Given this matrix of ideas, Ruthven argues that "literary forgery can be shown to have many components in common with literature" (73).
In Chapter 4, "Faultlines of authorship," Ruthven asserts that the concept of authorship "cannot be used as the unproblematic base from which to critique the authorial duplicities of literary forgers" (91), but it is "the Romantic ideology of authorship, whose operative terms are solitary geniuses and unique texts, the authoring of which authorises them" (91), that he uses as a straw man. Ruthven surveys "dispersed" authorial practices, such as: collaborating with other writers; writing anonymously or pseudonymously; using a persona; pretending that your own writing is the writing of someone else; writing for someone else (i.e., speech writing and ghostwriting), and franchising literary characters (e.g. James Bond) to other writers (e.g. Kingsley Amis). He feels that these practices undercut the Romantic concept of authorship against which, he seems to believe, we measure literary duplicity. How these commonplace practices call into question more realistic concepts of autho!
rship and literary fraud is not readily apparent. This chapter ends, rather anomalously, with a discussion of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays.
Ruthven begins his fifth chapter, "Fantasies of originality," with the claim: "the category of 'original genius' was invented and displayed in the titles of a couple of books published in 1767" (121). The rest of the chapter argues against the possibility of such an invention: "Since nothing human is created ex nihilo, everything is made of something else, and is in that respect a bircolage "(127). Ruthven emphasizes that literature is not original; it is imitative, derivative, intertextual, plagiaristic, and allusive. But  Ruthven also realizes that the "practice of imitatio is situated precariously between sameness and difference" (124). Literary imitation is not plagiarism. We would not mistake James Joyce's Ulysses for Homer's Odyssey, nor would we accuse Joyce of duplicity.
In "Fake literature as critique," the final chapter, Ruthven points out that literary deceptions reveal the fragility of "literature" as a cultural category. If critics could easily identify a literary work by its authority, originality, and authenticity, they would not be -- as they often are -- taken in by literary deceptions. In his Epilogue, Ruthven proposes "a moratorium on the demonising of literary forgeries and a systematic investigation of what they tell us about the so-called genuine article" (199). He concludes that "literary forgery is a sort of spurious literature, and so is literature" (200).
Ruthven identifies the following types of literary deceiver: (1) writers who choose pseudonyms that belie their sex and/or ethnicity (e.g. Toby Forward writing as Rahila Khan or Helen Darville writing as Helen Demidenko); (2) writers who pretend to be translating other writers, but are in fact not (e.g., James Macpherson writing as Ossian); (3) writers who pass off fiction as autobiography (e.g., Lorenzo Carcaterra in Sleepers); (4) forgers of manuscript diaries (e.g., Konrad Kujau writing as Hitler); (5) forgers of first editions (e.g., Thomas J. Wise and H. Buxton Forman printing  a fraudulent first edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portugese); (6) forgers of manuscript marginalia (e.g., John Payne Collier or Frederic Madden annotating the Perkins Folio in psuedo-Renaissance handwriting); (7) impostors who write fraudulent accounts of their lives and countries of origin (e.g., George Psalmanazar writing Historical and Geographical Description of Form!
osa pretending to be a Formosan); (8) writers who create fictitious authors and write works for them (e.g., James McAuley and Harold Stewart writing as Ern Malley); (9) writers who plagiarize (e.g., Shakespeare incorporating into Antony and Cleopatra phrases from North's translation if Plutarch's Lives); (10) writers of ficto-history (e.g., Simon Schama in Dead Certainties).  I could go on (and Ruthven does), but my point is that this heterogeneous group of literary deceivers can only with difficulty be included under a single rubric, though all the above fit, even if imperfectly, Ruthven's definition of fake literature: "any text whose actual provenance differs from what it is made out to be" (39). As Ruthven himself understands, there is a problem of agency here: who is responsible for determining the actual provenance and if it differs from "what it is made out to be"? Ruthven thinks that "agency should be ascribed to a spurious text rather than to its author" (39), thou!
gh how a text can read and explain itself he does not -- obviously --
make clear. In reading a text, the reader is the active agent who does the interpreting -- even though constrained by culture and ignorance.
But Ruthven does not emphasize difference -- psychological, cultural, or historical: "this book . . . puts a case for considering its [i.e. literary forgery's] conjunctive aspects" (70). His approach is synchronic rather than diachronic. For him, time is not an arrow, but a rhizome. He wants to collapse distinctions between the authentic and the fraudulent, between the original and the copy.
The weakest part of Ruthven's discussion of authorship is his (apparent) belief that William Shakespeare acted as a front for Edward De Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford, who really wrote Shakespeare's play, but who, unfortunately, died in 1604, nine years before Shakespeare's last play was written. An interesting case of ghostwriting/ghost writing? Ruthven asserts: "Professional Stratfordians do not share Michael D. Bristol's view that 'the real Shakespeare doesn't actually exist at all, except as the imaginary projection of an important tradition in social desire.' They therefore tend either to ignore all those 'fat, bad, sad books' by anti-Stratfordians or to treat them as amusing interludes in the serious business of establishing the texts of Shakespeare's plays" and other scholarly activities (117-18). First, Ruthven misquotes Bristol by cutting out the parenthetical comment, "-- like the real Santa Claus--," that should follow "the real Shakespeare," and thus subtl!
y changing the meaning of Bristol's sentence. Second, Bristol is himself what Ruthven calls a "professional Stratfordian." In the article cited by Ruthven, Bristol writes: "William Shakespeare . . . was a real person, a man born in in the small market town of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. He grew up in Stratford, he went to school, he married a woman named Ann Hathaway, he fathered three children. As a young man he moved to London where he became an actor, wrote poetry, and participated in various business ventures. When he died, in 1616, he was just 53 years old. This William Shakespeare really existed; he is the man who wrote the poems and plays that have made his name so famous. " It seems that Ruthven is faking when he claims Bristol as a supporter of the Oxfordian heresy.
Ruthven asserts that "the question . . .arises of why so little is known about the man who, according to his contemporary, Ben Jonson, was the greatest writer of 'all time'" (120). Jonson wrote that Shakespeare "was not of an age, but for all time." Nothing here about being the greatest writer of all time, merely an assertion (or fond hope) that his plays will survive. Since Ruthven has read the work of S. Schoenbaum, he should be aware that a great deal is known about Shakespeare's life, and if we accept the sonnets as autobiographical, we know more about Shakespeare's love life than we know about the love life of any other early modern English playwright.  How much biographical detail does Ruthven feel is required to authenticate Shakespeare's claim to have written his own plays? See page 149, for Ruthven's comment on "authentication by density."
Ruthven points out that literary deceivers often plant "clues" that point to the deceptions in their works (175-76). On page 187, he refers to the "evolutionary theories of . . . Thomas Ernest Huxley." Perhaps "Thomas Henry" was indeed known as "Thomas Ernest" in the country, but I suspect a clue. Ruthven is being less than earnest. Ruthven directs our search by telling us that literary clues "are often embedded in paratexual materials concerning provenance" (176). I believe that Ruthven's Index of names (a Genettean paratext) contains such clues. Or perhaps I should say does not contain the clues. The following names are included in the text, but excluded from the index: Michael Bristol, Dympna Callaghan, Edward De Vere, Hitler, "Thomas Ernest Huxley," John Keats, Charles Ogburn, Thomas Pynchon, K. K. Ruthven, Lee Siegel, Edgar Wind, and William Wordsworth. I leave it to the diligent reader to figure out what these clues may mean.

W. L. Godshalk *
Department of English    *           *
University of Cincinnati*   * Stellar Disorder  *
OH 45221-0069 *  *
From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca<mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca> [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Godshalk, William (godshawl) [godshawl at ucmail.uc.edu]
Sent: Monday, June 21, 2010 2:05 PM
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca<mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
Subject: Re: [ilds] faking it

You could buy his book, which is about ten years old. If you should find my review (below), I offer a summary there.

Cambridge UP does provide a brief summary as well.

Forging literary consciousness.(Faking Literature)(Book Review)
   Antipodes; Sunday, December 01, 2002; Godshalk, W.L.; 700+ words ...respect a bircolage "(127). Ruthven emphasizes that literature...plagiaristic, and allusive. But Ruthven also realizes that the...Joyce of duplicity. In "Fake literature as critique," the final chapter, Ruthven points out that literary.


W. L. Godshalk *
Department of English    *           *
University of Cincinnati*   * Stellar Disorder  *
OH 45221-0069 *  *
From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca<mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca> [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Bruce Redwine [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
Sent: Monday, June 21, 2010 9:41 AM
To: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu<mailto:Charles-Sligh at utc.edu>; ilds at lists.uvic.ca<mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
Cc: Bruce Redwine
Subject: Re: [ilds] faking it

Sorry for being so dense, but I still don't understand.  I think we need something out of the frame of literature to discuss this topic, and Ruthven might have the answer, so please summarize his arguments, as requested below.


On Jun 21, 2010, at 6:24 AM, Charles Sligh wrote:

I'm particularly interested in how Ruthven distinguishes between faking it in literature and faking it in everyday life.

I am afraid that there is no need to go so far afield.

A definitive treatment of this topic was written by Lawrence Durrell.
This book is called /The Alexandria Quartet /(1957-1960).

In that study, Durrell dramatically and convincingly collapses the
distinctions between "faking it in literature and faking it in everyday

Durrell's conclusions are provocative, somewhat controversial, and, by a
certain measure, irrefutable.

      ABSTRACT: Darley seems to learn that Justine seems to have been
      "faking it" the whole time.

For those readers interested in checking Durrell's findings against a
second authority, I recommend an earlier study in this same field of
"faking it," Shakespeare's /Hamlet/.


Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu<mailto:charles-sligh at utc.edu>

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