Dear Wikipedia

In the latest New Yorker is this open letter from Philip Roth, concerning the page devoted to his novel The Human Stain (a very good novel, in my opinion, if not his best). If you read the entire letter there’s hardly any need to read the novel, given the story before and the story after. The blend of fact and fiction detailed here might be more interesting: the alleged inspiration falsely reported in Wikipedia, the actual inspiration reported by Roth, and of course The Human Stain itself.

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.”

From racism to political correctness to academic oversight, read all about it here:


  1. Jonathan Potter says

    Cool. So now he’s got a secondary source he can submit.

  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    He’s an author, too? He was super cool in Reservoir Dogs.

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    That’s a great question, or point. To be contrasted with Saul Bellow’s response when interviewed about something on similar grounds. When a different interpretation was offered, he said something along the lines of, Yes, I like your version better.

  4. That article was very moving Quin. Thanks so much.

    We bought one of the last hardbound editions of the Britannica and I commend myself for the forsight.

    A Roth letter is better than everything everyone else writes. Fuck ’em all, the worthless (in the artistic sense) bastards. It’s unlikely it would have been published without Roth’s street cred. He is the last of the titans. Freeze him next to Disney and Ted Williams when he goes.

    Fuck Wikipedia, fuck Obama and fuck the whole phoney baloney fifth grade.

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