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A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Entry: Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries - A87910095
Author: Dmitri Gheorgheni - U1590784

I saw the movie trailer last Friday, and I couldn't stand it. I ordered the book.

Lee Israel's fake literary gossip letters are a hoot and a half. So you get the book review.

smiley - dragon


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 2

SashaQ - happysad - Editor

Thanks for writing this review - a fascinating tale, and reminded me of A87908566 the Conan Doyle collector who could well have been taken in by a forgery in the quest to obtain everything...

One thing I wondered was whether you could include something of her writing to give a flavour of the humour.

smiley - ok


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 3

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Besides the samples of her fake letters, you mean? Hm, good idea. Let me see what I can do....smiley - smiley


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 4

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Okay. I added a paragraph and a selection from my favourite passage in the book. smiley - smiley Thanks for the idea!


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 5

minorvogonpoet

This is intriguing, and asks interesting questions about how we value celebrity products. smiley - smiley

One question -how was she able to sell the forged letters?

Next question - how do we get access to these literary archives? (Though I wouldn't be any good at a life of crime!smiley - laugh)

smiley - biroIn the sentence beginning 'New projects became harder..." an and has sneaked in.


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 6

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Thanks, MVP! I probably started to write 'and harder' and thought better of it. smiley - laugh

She sold the forged letters through dealers - there are quite a lot of them, as we learn in the book, and they're not all knowledgeable or honest. There's a great bit in there about how she discovered the huge markup they put on her bogus work - her prices were quite modest in comparison to some of those dealers'.

How do you get to use archives? Many are open to the public upon request. Have you ever been to the St Marylebone public library? Back in the 70s, at least, they had quite a nice little collection of Sherlock Holmes-related materials, which they were perfectly willing to show a foreign visitor. smiley - smiley

Some are restricted, but if you are a research scholar connected to a university, or have, say, a letter saying you're working on an independent project, a book, etc, many archives will grant you access under certain conditions. Some will request references.

Security varies a lot. As a student at the University of Munich, for example, I was granted access to the manuscript room for a semester project, which involved collating an 8th-century gospel page with Old High German glosses from the monastery at Fulda. I had to handle the manuscript with cotton gloves, could only bring pencils into the hall, and sat the entire time with the manuscript on a stand, under the watchful gaze of librarians who sat in a raised area where they could see all the researchers. Munich took security very seriously. smiley - laugh

On the other hand, I've handled original materials from, say, the Second World War, which were in open-access areas at the University of Pittsburgh in pullout drawers. Nobody was paying the slightest attention as I pored over maps marked 'S.O.,E.' and 'Most Secret'. smiley - rofl

One thing Lee Israel did for these libraries, including many at prestigious institutions, was teach them to improve their security. She explains all this in the book. (It's really worth reading.)




A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 7

SashaQ - happysad - Editor

Nicely done with the added quotes - thank you smiley - ok

It is fascinating delving into the archives - I did a bit in relation to Family History, that I went to the local Records Office and was allowed to handle the original Parish Register from 1650-something smiley - bigeyes (after having completed the security checks by registering for an ID card).

My local Central Library also had a wealth of ephemera for me to handle when I was researching a local landmark A87764593 for h2g2 smiley - ok

I see people can visit the Conan Doyle Archive in Portsmouth, too http://www.visitportsmouth.co.uk/conandoyle/visit/archivesmiley - biggrin


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 8

Dmitri Gheorgheni

smiley - cool I think sometimes people miss out on the fun of archives and local museums.

Years ago, I was visiting my parents in their then-home in upstate New York, and I went to the local museum in Elmira with my mom. We stumbled across a notebook containing the typescript of letters by a Union soldier to his younger sister, who was named Elmira, too. They were funny and poignant.

We stood there and read the whole thing - my mom, who was from Mississippi (on the other side of that war), was fascinated and empathised completely with the family and what they went through.


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 9

Florida Sailor Getting Ready to Visit Havana, Cuba

DG this is a fascinating story. Thank you for entering it.

One of the first things I did after reading it was to look up the Alex Halley 'Roots' plagiarism charges. Apparently there was a trial (without a jury) and he paid an undisclosed amount to the plaintiff. He claimed that the copied text came from consultants who did not disclose their sources. An interesting read, but probably not worth an Entry.

I have used the 'private collections' at one of our local Universities (U.S.F) with nothing more than showing my ID and telling them what I was interested about. I had seen an inventory that included several volumes about a person I was interested in. They brought me several 3 ring binders of transcripts, it was almost closing time so I only had about an hour to study themsmiley - sadface

On my second visit they gave me boxes of the original journals, written by quill pen in the 1830's . I was more interested in the content than handling historic documents, so I asked for the transcripts instead. It can take a bit of time to decipher some 175 year old cursive and I was only looking for a general overview, not an expose'.

I also learned a great deal about him on the internet, including his death and funeral, which he of course, did not write about himselfsmiley - rose

Sorry to go on so long in PR

F smiley - dolphin S


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 10

Dmitri Gheorgheni

smiley - laugh Why not? We seem to be on an interesting side trip about archival sources - maybe this discussion will stimulate more Guide Entries.

I didn't know about Alex Haley. I did know about a Stephen Ambrose problem of the same type. Which points out an important point: always document sources, mind copyright, and observe fair use rules. smiley - winkeye


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 11

Florida Sailor Getting Ready to Visit Havana, Cuba

Just because you seem interested, this is the best source I found http://www.nytimes.com/1978/12/15/archives/roots-plagiarism-suit-is-settled-roots-plagiarism-suit-is-settled.html

It should be a warning for all of us on questioning our sources.

smiley - biggrin

F smiley - dolphin S


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 12

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Especially when you consider that Haley was an experienced journalist. smiley - ok


A87910095 - Can We Ever Forgive Her? Lee Israel and Her Literary Forgeries

Post 13

Dmitri Gheorgheni

There is also his opponent's opinion to consider:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1989/06/03/alex-haley-should-stop-playing-pretend/d26292df-f58f-4f9c-8b87-601582b3bb66/?utm_term=.9e1cdd0a6d34


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