Author Philip Roth Asks Wikipedia To Fix Error About His Book, Is Rejected

Author Philip Roth asked online encyclopedia Wikipedia to fix a factual error in the article about his book The Human Stain. The best part about this story? He was initially rejected as a “credible source.”

Roth was perusing Wikipedia one day, and noticed that the article about his book The Human Stain contained a factual error. Wikipedia said that the book was inspired by the life of late writer and literary critic Anatole Broyard. This error prompted Roth to pen an open letter to Wikipedia that appeared in the New Yorker, saying that the assertion is false, and that it’s the result of literary gossip. The book is actually based on the life of his late friend Melvin Tumin, a sociology professor at Princeton.

“I am Philip Roth. I had reason recently to read for the first time the Wikipedia entry discussing my novel “The Human Stain.” The entry contains a serious misstatement that I would like to ask to have removed. This item entered Wikipedia not from the world of truthfulness but from the babble of literary gossip—there is no truth in it at all,” he wrote.

The best part of this story is that Roth’s appeal was initially rejected by Wikipedia, reports Newser. He approached Wikipedia over the error through an intermediary, and was shot down. “I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work, but we require secondary sources,” Roth quotes the administrator as writing.

Happy ending, though: Roth’s open letter to Wikipedia appears to have worked, as the entry on The Human Stain now reflects the author’s assertions. I guess they ultimately decided that “literary gossip” does not constitute a “secondary source.”

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