Philip Roth Pens Open Letter to Wikipedia to Fix Error

... and it works, after he is first rejected as a 'credible source'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2012 11:30 AM CDT
Novelist Philip Roth in 2005.   (AP Photo/Douglas Healey, file)

(Newser) – Philip Roth glanced at the Wikipedia entry for his novel The Human Stain and learned that his book was inspired by the life of the late writer and literary critic Anatole Broyard. The problem, writes Roth in an open letter to Wikipedia published in the New Yorker, is that the assertion isn't true. It's just "the babble of literary gossip." The novel, he explains, is based on the life his late friend Melvin Tumin, who taught sociology at Princeton. (A main plot point revolves around the protagonist getting into hot water for innocently referring to two missing students as "spooks," something that actually happened to Tumin.)

The best part of Roth's open letter is that when he approached Wikipedia with the correction through an intermediary, an administrator shot him down: “I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work, but we require secondary sources," he quotes the administrator as writing. Hence, the open letter, which appears to have worked: The entry on Roth now reflects the new version. (Read more Philip Roth stories.)

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