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Monday, August 3, 2009

Fake Essay Goes Undetected for Years

What If You Pull a Literary Hoax and Nobody Notices? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Peter Monaghan writes:

Perpetrators of literary hoaxes often like to be discovered, if only for recognition of their cleverness. But for someone or someones at the literary-studies journal Modernism/Modernity, that gratification has been a while coming.

In 2004 the journal, which is the quarterly of the Modernist Studies Association, ran a review essay of the writer David Foster Wallace's story collection Oblivion. The essay was a put-on, a leg-pull, a sham, in ways that take some explaining for nonspecialists in recent American fiction. But no one publicly called attention to the con until last month.

Mark Sample, an assistant professor of contemporary American literature and new-media studies at George Mason University, blew the whistle on his blog, Sample Reality. The review essay that provoked him, "An Undeniably Controversial and Perhaps Even Repulsive Talent," was attributed to a certain Jay Murray Siskind, in the department of popular culture at Blacksmith College. No such institution exists, nor does Siskind, other than as a rather Mephistophelean character (as Sample puts it) in the acclaimed novel White Noise, by Don DeLillo.

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