Close
Enter your search into one or more of the boxes below:
You can refine your search by selecting from any of the options below:
Search

Philip Roth triumphs after Wikipedia storm

10th September 2012 - 4:22pm

Philip Roth has emerged victorious following a row about a Wikipedia edit that claimed the protagonist in his acclaimed novel The Human Stain was based on the writer and critic Anatole Broyard – something Roth vehemently denies.

In the 2000 novel, Massachusetts classics tutor Coleman Silk, who was born to black parents but raised as white, sees his life descend into chaos after a remark he makes is misconstrued as a racial slur.

In the Wikipedia entry for the book, it was claimed that the character was based on Broyard; a former reviewer for the New York Times who was himself born to black parents but raised as white.

After learning of this, Roth contacted Wikipedia to inform the website that this was a 'serious misstatement' and that Broyard did not provide any inspiration for the character of Silk.

However, Wikipedia's moderators initially refused to accept Roth's argument, claiming he was not a 'reliable source' and that a second party was needed to verify his claims.

In a 2,655-word letter to the site, Roth pointed out that Silk was actually based on a friend of his, Melvin Tumin, who had himself had a statement misinterpreted as being racist while he was teaching at Princeton in 1985.

This was described as 'the initiating incident' of The Human Stain by Roth, who argued that there would have been no novel without it.

In the letter to Wikipedia, the author also pointed out that he only encountered Broyard a handful of times in his entire life and did not know the critic sufficiently to base a character on him, while he was not even made aware of Broyard's ancestry until work on The Human Stain had already commenced.

'He and I barely knew each other. Over more than three decades I ran into him casually and inadvertently maybe three or four times, before a protracted battle with prostate cancer ended his life in 1990,' Roth said.

The edit was eventually removed by Wikipedia and a new section has been added to the page for The Human Stain, in which the misinformation is addressed.

Roth has now criticised Wikipedia, which relies on 33,000 online contributors to remove vandalism and ensure articles are as accurate as possible.

The author, who was informed by an 'English Wikipedia Administrator' that he was not a credible source, has called for greater policing of the site to reduce the prevalence of spurious facts and mistruths that could alter public perception.

'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,' Roth stated.

Your Shopping Basket
Total number of items: 0
Sub total: £0.00
Edit Basket Go to Checkout
Select Currency: $ £
enCounter Culture
Signed Books and Copies
110 Exhibition
Bookseller Industry Awards
Animators Survival Kit
Latest Blog
GUEST BLOG: Tackling taboos the Mirabelle Bevan Way
18/04/2014

Sara Sheridan, author of the 1950s-set Mirabelle Bevan Mysteries, explains how she tackles subjects that were taboo at the time, like sex and violence.

Once upon a time in the west
15/04/2014

While Westerns remain popular in America, they have largely fallen out of favour with British readers. This is a great pity, suggests Joshua from our Waterloo branch, as they are missing out on some wonderful fiction, both classic and contemporary.

GUEST BLOG: Generating questions
10/04/2014

Bestselling thriller writer Chris Pavone explains how revising the script for the screen adaptation of his debut, The Expats, revealed a fundamental truth about what ensures readers keep turning the pages.

View all Blog Entries
Twitter
© W&G Foyle Ltd
Version: 1.0.0.29925