The great Dickens and Dostoevsky hoax
June 19, 2018 4:14 AM   Subscribe

"There were two people in him, he told me: one who feels as he ought to feel and one who feels the opposite. From the one who feels the opposite I make my evil characters, from the one who feels as a man ought to feel I try to live my life. ‘Only two people?’ I asked." posted by Pyrogenesis (9 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a double (in fact a triple), though the main link in the original post is now broken.
posted by verstegan at 5:29 AM on June 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


[Original was a good while ago, and we're discussing lightening up a bit on doubles that go way back, so Ima declare this one fair game.]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:32 AM on June 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


(I see that I mashed the favorite button on this back in 2013, but I missed the follow-up post and I get it's something with arNOLD but Harvey never explains )
NOLD JONSON
posted by steef at 6:50 AM on June 19, 2018


Wow! I've only ever seen sockpuppeteering (in this sense) as an internet behaviour and I've never come across it IRL before, though thinking about it now I can't imagine why it wouldn't happen. In either sphere, the unveiling is always entertaining. I wonder if there are other IRL examples of it, though a cursory search-engine trawl has netted me about as much relevant results as would be expected. The closest I can think of otherwise is the experiments women authors and business owners do taking on male pseudonyms to see whether they get better results, but that feels pretty different.

"You have failed to detect two things about me..."
Something about the language of this speech rings very close to every revealed sockpuppeteer (ventriloquist?) I've seen, and I don't know what it is. I think some weird mix of self-absorption and pretension, and as if they're a character in a book they're writing, where I guess the narrator parallels the puppeteer in being a both detached yet invested primary to their alts, who prop them (/their ego/ their self image) up.

I love how the three times I read the pull quote (in the OP, then twice in the longform), each time it felt completely different.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 8:56 AM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I may not know Dickens scholarship, but I know my fandom drama, and an email saying "this is her sister and she's been in a terrible car accident and she can barely speak" is a trick as old as Usenet.

It's hard not to see an undercurrent of misogyny here, what with the gross descriptions of women and his implicit elevation of himself to the level of Doris Lessing (or above). I might have been sympathetic to the story of someone who seemed to be shut out of his work by the British class system, but as it is, it's doubtful whether this volatile, mendacious man could have really been a good part of a community if they had just given him a chance.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:05 AM on June 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


Wow! I've only ever seen sockpuppeteering (in this sense) as an internet behaviour and I've never come across it IRL before, though thinking about it now I can't imagine why it wouldn't happen.

Kierkegaard engaged in notorious and famous back-and-forths in letter-to-the-press feuds between diametrically-opposed aliased versions of himself.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:38 AM on June 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think some weird mix of self-absorption and pretension

That's well put, and I absolutely see it in him in the Guardian article. When presented with his Dickens lie (I refuse to call it "the great hoax" of any sort, because that just adds to the guy's egomania), he avoids any sense of its effect on the actual people on the other end, let alone the historical record, which was contaminated. Instead he sniffily insists that the point is that "I am creative and inventive." Good at creating...lies? Oh ok.

It's hard not to see an undercurrent of misogyny here

I thought so too, Countess Elena. As you say, the Lessing fixation and the insistence on cramming in repeated quotes of his porn. Dude, get an AO3 account, go wild--just stop mucking up historical publications, which are based on a foundational agreement that authors have already been rigorous in their scholarship (or at the very least have done their best in good faith), because editors cannot possibly chase down every footnote and somehow guarantee that authors are not presenting barefaced lies. (I mean..."caveat emptor" this guy says? Ugh, get out.)
posted by theatro at 1:40 PM on June 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there are other IRL examples of it

There's currently one in the White House
posted by trig at 1:56 PM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


The msscribe saga was a web of personalities created in Harry Potter fandom by a woman who wanted to be a BNF -- that is, a "big-name fan." A big-name fan of Harry Potter. She got to make friends with Cassandra Clare, so I guess it worked out for her in the end.

There is actually a pre-internet example of the author struck down in her prime and her sister looking after her affairs. (This was over some unpublished Star Wars zines in the '80s.)
posted by Countess Elena at 2:09 PM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


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