Author persists with Outrages (comment)

Margaret DeLacy Discussion


Below is a link to an article for the New York Times by Jennifer Schuessler that appeared on July 9.  The article discusses the imbroglio over a book  entitled "Outrages" that one reviewer called out for a serious error in interpreting the online records from the  Old Bailey Online Database.  The book, which was based on the author's dissertation, discusses the life of the homosexual British author John Addington Symonds  as a window on the attitudes towards homosexual conduct  during the Victorian era. The author offered to correct the error(s), but the publisher decided to curtail American distribution.  This raises the question of what responsibility publishers souuld assume for the accuracy of claims in a monograph (in this case one apparently intended for a popular audience)--after it has apparently been approved by a dissertation committee and again by publisher's reviewers.  

    "Her Book in Limbo, Naomi Wolf Fights Back"

"After her American publisher delayed her new book, “Outrages,” over accuracy concerns, she is responding with a strategy mixing scholarly peer review and damage control"

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Unfortunately, Dr. Wolf has long been infamous (justifiably or not) for historical inaccuracies and spotty research, with vettings at academic and publisher levels falling short. (It does not sound, by the way, as if trained period historians were part of the review process at any point for OUTRAGES.)
While wonderful and desirous to have for any field, a compelling prose style does not excuse evidentiary failures in an historical study, a significant part of whose argument then builds upon an erroneous thesis; the subject and subjects of OUTRAGES deserve better care and attention.…
~ E. D. Lloyd-Kimbrel