Mankind's only alternative 21   SEP.   18  
Mankind's only alternative
Welcome
MAIN  RUSSIA  WAR NERD   [SIC!]  BAR-DAK  THE VAULT  ABOUT US  RSS
 
 
EXILE BLOGS

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Book Review May 19, 2008
 
Literary Frauds Strike Again ...and Again
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 4
 

So naturally, writers, always desperate and cunning, start thinking: wouldn't it be great to make myself the hero(ine) of a story of modern suffering that was no fault of my own? That'd really have them sobbing at my feet and bring in the money too.

Jones and Defonseca found different but similar routes to a solution, fixing on suffering that was glamorous, familiar and yet exotic to their office-bound readers: the Holocaust and the L.A. gangsta life.

It's important to realize here that the "suffering" of these stories is erotic to the reader, just as the vision of a magic table always full of food was erotic to a medieval audience. And by looking at what forgers feed their gullible readers, we can see how cultures change.

The success of Jones' and Defonseca's books suggests that, to a modern American book buyer, it would be glamorous to be a gang member or be raised by wolves. This is a very recent change; wolves were the villains of the older European folk tales. People who lived in the Northern forest were scared to death of wolves. As people concentrate in cities and wiped out the wolves, wolves become glamorous; glamour and scarcity, linked as always.

The ethnic background concocted by "Misha Defonseca" is also very revealing of social changes. Very few Europeans pretended to be Jewish before 1945. It was, indeed, rather more common to pretend not to be Jewish. The fact that Misha, born into a Belgian Catholic family named de Waal, lied to make herself Jewish reflects the impressive success of American Jews in the latter half of the 20th century and the special status accorded to the Holocaust and its survivors. What's truly remarkable about the author's ethnic shift is that Monique de Waal's parents were in fact heroic Resistance fighters and really were murdered by the Nazis. But "Misha" decided that Belgian Catholic resistants were not saleable and made herself a Jew.

Misha's publisher, Jane Daniel, said, "It's almost impossible when you are up against a Holocaust survivor. That mantle became a bullet-proof vest or a Teflon coat with an assumed air of moral superiority."

Of course Daniel is hardly an innocent herself. In fact, she's the defendant in a huge lawsuit brought by Monique de Waal, or whatever you want to call her, claiming that Daniel cheated the writer and failed to honor her responsibilities as publisher. Don't expect good guys or innocents in stories about literary fraud. There are none. Everyone, even the reader—especially the reader—is complicit in such frauds.

But Daniel is right about the dangers of doubting any claims by Holocaust survivors, or even people who tell stories on their behalf. When Steven Spielberg was asked what right he had to make Schindler's List, he flat-out lied and said that he had been persecuted for being Jewish at his high school in Saratoga, California. When journalists went to Saratoga to follow up on this claim and came up empty, they didn't call Spielberg on it—they just dropped it. Cultures tend to punish harshly those who puncture sacred narratives and reward those who buttress them, no matter how flimsy the claim or unqualified the storyteller.

So you'll always find the sleazy literary forger being blessed by the most sanctimonious priests, secular or religious, in any culture. Take Oprah, who famously canonized forger James Frey on her show, then excommunicated him for lying to her. She was appar-ently scheduled to interview the author of Misha before the charade collapsed. Oprah is to the contemporary dullard what the religious hierarchy is to most earlier cultures; she separates the wheat from the chaff, the worthy from the unworthy.

Until the 20th century, many forgers exploited the religious hierarchy in the same way Frey exploited Oprah. One hilarious example is of a cunning French impostor who landed in London, hungry and penniless, in the early 18th century. Quickly sizing up the possibilities for a glib liar, the new arrival claimed he was "Psalmanazar," a Taiwanese refugee. "Psalmanazar" was actually a young man from the South of France, one of those European drifters who, like the young Rousseau, traveled the continent exploiting the missions of one or another Christian sect. When he reached England, he cleverly put his "Taiwanese" act to work by having a well-timed epiphany upon hearing the central tenets of Anglicanism.


SHARE:  Del.icio.us  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit

Browse author
dolan@exile.ru
 
 
FROM THE VAULT

New Hookah Flavors Hit Moscow :

eXile ComiX: Al-Dilbert :

Douglas Kent’s Hit and Run :

Cause Of Russia’s Tragic History Revealed :
 

 
 
 
LATEST ARTICLES

Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
Editorial
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...

 
 
 

    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442
E-mail: office@exile.ru