Saturday, April 30, 2011

Richard H. Brodhead: Poster Boy for Ineptitude

Can Brodhead Stop his Ears against Melville's Hyena Laughter?

As Michael Gaynor's summarized in "Yes!!!! Wronged Lacrosse Players Suing Duke," on 21 February 2008 "more than three dozen members of the 2006 Duke University men’s lacrosse team and members of their families filed suit against Duke University, its President Richard Brodhead and other officials, Duke’s medical center, and the City of Durham and city officials for emotional distress and other injuries in connection with false rape charges and a corrupt police investigation against team members in 2006."

At the National Press Club news conference held to announce this lawsuit, Steven Henkelman, speaking for many of the Plaintiffs, was self-controlled but passionate. The father of Erik Henkelman, a member of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team, Henkelman told why he and Erik joined in the new lawsuit against many at Duke and Durham, including Richard Brodhead: "How could Richard Brodhead as the President of Duke refuse to show even the most basic courtesy and meet with lacrosse parents gathered in Durham on March 25th [2006], the day he had orchestrated the abrupt cancellation the Georgetown game with the visiting team already on the field, the day he would issue his first guilt-implying press release featuring his – and I quote – 'sexual assault will not be tolerated at Duke' headline? . . . . Duke was in a 'damage control' mode; they were willing to sacrifice a few – our sons - for the good of the institution. There was to be no support from Dick Brodhead, Bob Steel or any Duke administrator for our sons."

Almost before Henkelman had finished his eloquent remarks, it seemed, Brodhead's Duke lawyers moved to silence parents, individual players, and the lawyers for the Plaintiffs. Objecting to the existence of the Plaintiff's website,, the Duke lawyers singled out Mr. Henkelman for speaking "in a manner calculated to engender sympathy." Brodhead had watched silently while Duke professors called for the castration of lacrosse players, but Brodhead's lawyers were offended when one father of one of the innocent players revealed the depth of pain his son and the whole family suffered because of Brodhead's pervasive ineptitude. Manipulative, exploitative father that he was, Henkelman had spoken "in a manner calculated to engender sympathy"! Imagine!

In the chapter of Moby-Dick called "The Hyena" Melville describes the weird mood that may follow some grotesque turn amid bleak tragedy--something as grotesque as Brodhead's lawyers being offended by Steven Henkelman's words. Melville wrote, "That odd sort of wayward mood I am speaking of, comes over a man only in some time of extreme tribulation; it comes in the very midst of his earnestness, so that what just before might have seemed to him a thing most momentous, now seems but a part of the general joke." The only laughter you can emit is the raucous, terrifying laughter of a hyena.

I doubt that Mr. Henkelman is able to laugh about much in his situation, but what the Duke lawyers are doing now does not merely point to Brodhead's well-established tendency to rush to the wrong judgment and his well-documented "almost willful disregard for the facts" (NEWSWEEK 10 September 2007), or his habitual disdain, or his Radney-Claggart-like jealousy of brilliant young helmeted athletes, or his recurrent blindness to human agony against which I presciently protested in FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS (1984). No, what is happening now is different: Brodhead is becoming the subject of humor, not heartwarming joyous humor but sardonic, contemptuous humor. He is being known not only for cold-heartedness, or even for what Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson in UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT called his "moral meltdown," but for something more damning in the 21st century--ineptitude.

Look away from Brodhead's cruelty toward James Van de Velde as Dean of Yale College in 1999, when he could have moved to protect the reputation of the brilliant young athletic scholar haplessly listed by the inept local police as a suspect in a grisly murder, only because he was the victim's adviser. Look instead at Brodhead's own ineptness: now, almost a decade later, Van de Velde's lawsuit, which names Brodhead as well as others at Yale and Yale itself, is reinstated and going forward--at who knows what ultimate financial cost to Yale?

When Duke Trustee Robert Steel came courting him to be President of Duke, vanity seems to have prevented Brodhead from making a simple declaration--that he was not qualified to be president of a great university. Duke University has paid for his ineptitude with a settlement with Michael Pressler, the lacrosse coach. The Brodhead stupidly slurred Pressler, and his spokesman Burness repeated slur to a reporter, so that that Pressler sued and Duke settled again.

Multi-million dollar settlements with three indicted lacrosse players have been made. An October 2007 lawsuit was filed by those three most violated lacrosse players against the city of Durham, its police chief and others, including the now-disbarred former District Attorney Mike Nifong, all of whom who relied on Brodhead to "disregard" facts as they pursued their fraudulent charges. On 18 December 2007 three non-indicted lacrosse players filed suit against the district attorney, Durham, and Duke University (naming Brodhead). And then the 21 February 2008 lawsuit!

After years of delay, in April 2011 Judge Beaty has allowed one charge in each of two cases to go forward against Brodhead: obstruction of justice in one and constructive fraud in another. The DISCOVERY process is at last proceeding.

What other Dean or President of any great American university has proved so expensive to be let loose on a campus, his character driving him to a pattern of blunders--blunders which redefine the word "costly"?

Now everyone knows about Brodhead's ineptitude as a supposed "scholar." Merely look at his THE SCHOOL OF HAWTHORNE, where he gloats over the vanished reputation of the poet (as he says) Thomas Bailey Aldrich, a writer who ought to have been included as a prominent early student of Hawthorne! A critic ineptly takes on a scholarly subject without doing the basic research! Clueless Brodhead! Disdainful, yes, and unequipped to write the book, but, really, just hapless to choose Aldrich to sneer at, Aldrich whose famous THE STILLWATER TRAGEDY opens with a grand example of late-century homage to Hawthorne. Brodhead is a critic, not a scholar who has absorbed previous knowledge and added to it, and as such is prone to embarrassing stumbles as his innate disdain intrudes where a scholar would have performed respectful research.

In 2002 Brodhead was incapable of telling the New York TIMES that as a mere critic he was unqualified to review my biography based on earlier scholarship and containing vast amounts of new information based on archival research. Breezily defaming me as a "demon-researcher," he ignored decades of scholarship in order to imply that I had fabricated crucial episodes in Melville's life (his completing a book called THE ISLE OF THE CROSS in 1853 and his completing another called POEMS in 1860). In order to slander me Brodhead ignored the life’s work of many older scholars who had shown that Melville finished a book in 1853 (although I found the title as late as 1987) and that Melville had tried to get POEMS published, and left it, he thought, in the care of people who would see that it was published. To be lied about in the New York TIMES was almost too much to bear; worse, I had to see Brodhead's lies repeated by Andrew Delbanco and Elizabeth Schultz.

Could Brodhead not have looked at the 1960 LETTERS OF HERMAN MELVILLE and seen on p. 164 that Melville had completed a book in 1853 and on pp. 199 his instruction to his brother Allan about his new book: "Let the title-page be simply, / Poems / by / Herman Melville" (a letter first printed in 1922)? Could he have not looked at the same letters in CORRESPONDENCE (1993), pages 249-250 and 343-344?

Or, if he had been in the slightest bit responsible, could Brodhead not have looked at these documents quoted in the book he was reviewing, HERMAN MELVILLE: A BIOGRAPHY, 1851-1891, on pages 145-155 and 418-426 and 443-444? No. Not if the purpose of his review was to destroy my reputation. No. Not if he was truly so incompetent as not to know how to read the evidence before him or so irresponsible as not to read it at all. Brodhead led a ferocious team of false accusers, all critics, like him, critics who had never done any archival research. I was all but broken in spirit: I was old, exhausted from many years of dedicated research and writing, and I was undergoing surgery I had postponed in order to complete the second volume of my biography. The lies, still alive on the Internet in 2011, made entry into my eighth decade very painful.

Finally, late in 2006, realizing that three lacrosse players might go to jail because of Brodhead, I began work on an article published in the June 2007 Nineteenth-Century Literature (out late July). Before it came out, Michael Gaynor wondered aloud how good a scholar Brodhead really was, and I e-mailed him about how Brodhead had filched from me my good name. Gaynor quoted me in his 7 June 2007 "Richard Brodhead Targeted Hershel Parker Before Lacrosse Players," where I broke my five years of silent suffering.

I still don't find what Brodhead did to me at all funny, but I hear hyena laughter from many directions. Think of Ken Larrey trying to get Brodhead to look at evidence of the sex show that played at Duke early in 2008, while Brodhead averted his eyes, just as he had refused to look at evidence of the lacrosse players' innocence. Listen to the hyena laughter.

On 11 March 2008 Gadi Dechter in the Baltimore SUN, "Multitalented Leader Sought to Fill Shoes," described the ground rules in the search for a new President of the Johns Hopkins University. First do no harm by hiring a Lawrence H. Summers or a Richard H. Brodhead!

Will any group of trustees and other university officials in the foreseeable future start a search without remembering the hastily-speaking Summers and the costly Brodhead, the inept man with a long history of rushing wildly to the wrong judgment? Ironically, Summers' fate propelled Brodhead (terrified since 1986 of being blackened for political incorrectness) into abasing himself before the Gang of 88. Brodhead's name will be mentioned during searches for university presidents accompanied by sounds between a snickering moan and a hyena laugh.

Even sports writers comprehend Brodhead's ineptitude. In the 12 March 2008 Baltimore SUN Mike Preston wrote in "Sympathy for Duke Disappears Thanks to NCAA" about "the boneheaded way" Brodhead and his staff "handled the investigation into rape allegations against three players. The allegations were eventually proven false and dropped . . . . But aren't we forgetting someone? How about Duke president Richard Brodhead? Wasn't he the guy who overreacted and tried to win the public relations game back in 2006 when he canceled the season after eight games? Didn't he play a major part in pressuring Pressler to leave town?" When the sports writer uses words like bonehead, the word is out about Brodhead's ineptitude.

The admirable group called Duke Students for an Ethical Duke on 12 March 2008 reported its close reading of the 18 December 2007 lawsuit in which Brodhead is a defendant. Brodhead's Director of Judicial Affairs, Stephen Bryan, had cooked statistics against the lacrosse team: "As brief examples of their absurdity, Bryan's statistics . . . held lacrosse players accountable for '50% of noise violations and 33% of open container violations' . . . based on single instances of such violations by lacrosse players." One youth holding an open can becomes a third of all open container charges in Durham! The hyena laughs again as it circles around Richard Brodhead, the Poster Boy for Ineptitude. "

And then the horrific Potti scandal where false science was the basis of the medical treatment of real suffering human beings, and Brodhead was sure there was some “intermediate explanation” between fraud and what—incompetence?—for Potti’s falsifying “scientific” research. Does Brodhead hear the hyena laughing at the man who lied about my scholarship in the New York TIMES and told the world that only I had ever heard of POEMS, when everyone had known about it since 1922? Potti and Brodhead, brothers under the skin, incompetents who falsely claimed expertise they did not have (in Brodhead's case, for example,competency to call the roll of students in the school of Hawthorne or competency to review a biography based on documentary evidence), pretenders to scholarship: the hyena laughs.

Then Brodhead's Kunshan boondoggle which Fact Checker is so lucidly analyzing in the Duke Chronicle . . . When will the hyena stop laughing?

Henry Binder enthroned 1980

HP & friend

HP 30 April 2011 Moonstone Beach

Gang of Unidentified Miscreants [?], Possibly Academics, shooting craps?

HP & friend

Hershel Parker and Heddy-Ann Richter in Pittsfield 2007

Todd Richardson on land saved for Californians by Roger Lyon, Bruce Gibson, and their allies

Friday, April 29, 2011

HP & friend

Steven J. Mailloux

HP & friend

Parker cousins

The younger dead much too soon.

Henry Binder

Molly Mailloux

Colin Dewey

A fine sailor and rope weaver who wanted a Frenchified Cornell PhD and got it despite the best advice we could give him.

Martha Costner Parker at 90

Martha Costner and Hershel Parker

Martha Costner Parker and Hershel Parker

Martha Costner Parker

Hershel Parker in Deconstructionist Mode

Hershel Parker Happy at Max Gate

Hershel and Quanah Parker and Steven J. Mailloux

Henry Binder meeting Watson G. Branch


In writing my biography of Melville I tried to visualizing every scene, even to the point of making rough seating charts at big family dinners. This may sound silly, but it helped me with the interrelationships of the characters. Perhaps because I understood 19th century modes of transportation so well (better than anyone else of my academic time, I am sure!--see the "Footsteps" article) I always visualized ways in which characters got to a given place, the time it took, how dirty and exhausted they would have been, and so on. There were moments when this paid off, as in my understanding the triumphant journey of Cousin Priscilla to Illinois by rail in the early 1850s after she had made the journey the old ways [I do mean "ways"] in the late 30s, or when people who had crossed Massachusetts by stagecoach crossed it by rail.

Now that I have been looking at Wineapple on Melville for several days I am struck again, this morning, by her debilitating failure to visualize her characters in motion. Well, her Gothic Imagination kicks in so that she has Melville, bushy beard blowing in the wind, galloping, galloping up to Love Grove. I mean visualizing responsibly.

Take, for instance, this on 243:"Early in November, Hawthorne met Melville for dinner at the Lenox hotel, and that night Melville presumably gave Hawthorne his inscribed copy of Moby-Dick" . . .

Leave aside the outright errors (it was not early November,and it was not night but afternoon).

"Hawthorne met Melville." Visualize. Melville texted Hawthorne asking if he could start walking to the Hotel and he would leave after a while and meet him there. No, Melville TELEPHONED Hawthorne and asked him . . . No, Melville got his copies of MOBY-DICK and even though he knew from the real meeting he had had at the Sedgwicks' EARLY in November that the Hawthornes were leaving any day he was confident enough in the speed of the postal service and PATIENT enough to drop Hawthorne a note saying he would like to get together and PATIENT enough to wait for Hawthorne's reply and . . . . No, that's not like Melville.

No, Melville had to go to the Little Red Cottage AND GET HAWTHORNE AND GO WITH HIM TO THE HOTEL and maybe even accompany him home before making the long trek back to Arrowhead.

Think about it.

I am thinking about it before I start my new and dismayingly long series about Wineapple's errors of fact about Hawthorne.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I finally looked at Brenda Wineapple’s review of my biography in the NATION and am stunned by the reckless writing. Here are examples:

In 1841 Melville signed on to the whaler Acushnet . . . .


. . . the autobiographical Redburn (1849), followed by a story of seamen, White-Jacket (1850) . . .


. . . . And on the basis of this gossip column . . . .


According to Parker, who expertly excavated information about the lost manuscript, including its title ("The Isle of the Cross"), Melville finished this book, which his publisher, Harper's, was prevented from printing for some unknown reason. (Parker thinks the Harper brothers feared a suit from survivors . . .)


. . . "The Encantadas," sketches that Melville may have purloined from a longer unpublished manuscript of his about tortoises . . . .


Judge Shaw dispatched the ailing Melville to Rome, Egypt and the Levant . . .


[Egypt] . . . hoping to find among the hieroglyphics tidings to quiet his uneasy soul.


His works falling out of print,he solaced himself in long walks around New York City after he and his family moved there in 1863, and eventually landed
a dry-dock job as a Custom House inspector.


A DEFINITION FROM FLICKR.COM: “Dry docks are great chambers below water level used for the repair and construction of ships. A ship can be brought in from the adjoining body of water once the chamber has been filled with water. The chamber is then drained, allowing the ship to rest on wooden blocks so that work may proceed. After work is completed, the chamber is flooded to outside water level, the gate is opened, and the ship can depart.” JUST THE PLACE FOR A CUSTOMS INSPECTOR TO WORK!

. . . allegations about Melville's abuse of his wife, which so upset her brothers they wanted to kidnap her and the children and hustle them back to Boston.


The beleaguered Melville frequently did abandon his wife, whom he seemed to love, though he was clearly drawn to the company of men . . . .


What can you say about this level of sloppiness?


Wineapple's vision of Melville is far more dramatic than anything I could have written, but it comes from Gothic fiction, not from the known documents.

In Wineapple you see the failure to employ a responsible, attentively visualizing imagination coupled with reckless indulgence of an irresponsible imagination. As I have pointed out in other postings here, Brenda Wineapple’s Herman Melville (but not the real Melville) is a “bushy-bearded young man, a “daredevil who sprints from rock to jutting rock” after “striding off the gangplank into a garret” and before “lying on the new-mown clover near the barn” and before picturing “Hawthorne as a mate bobbing like him on the troubled seas of publishing, recognition, and posterity” and before telling “the Hawthornes a story about a man and a large oak cudgel” (it wasn’t just any story about a man—it was a thrilling story about a South Sea adventure) and before he “bellowed after reading THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES,” and before “Julian was especially thrilled when Melville, galloping down the road, stopped, bent down, and scooped him up into the saddle.”

Has Wineapple been reading a chapter or two of WUTHERING HEIGHTS (or, heaven forfend, THE MONK) as a preparatory exercise before writing her book about Hawthorne? Does she carry in her mind images of “large jutting stones” in WUTHERING HEIGHTS and does she hear the beat of horses’ feet galloping down “t’ broad road,” galloping out of sight? For the “bushy-bearded” Melville is NOT galloping along the road when he spies Hawthorne and his son sitting off the road in Love Grove and he does NOT bend down and scoop Julian up into the saddle before him. The lurid figure, nominally Melville, has more to do with Heathcliff than the real Herman Melville.

Wineapple displays remarkable inattention to what the documents actually say and displays a mind stuffed to overflowing with the clichés of Gothic novels. In hours when I need the force of dramatic narrative I read the best of John Buchan and the best of Zane Grey and the best of Erskine Childers. In a public library does Wineapple gravitate to books with garish pink covers, the ones guaranteed to be the best modern equivalents of the old “romantic fiction” which Donoghue saw pervading much of HAWTHORNE: A LlFE? Or did Donoghue include modern “romantic fiction” in his analysis?

Sprinting, striding, galloping, bobbing, scooping up a child like a Mongolian horseman! No wonder the comments on HAWTHORNE: A LIFE in are ecstatic! Exciting stuff! Not good biography at all, but exciting stuff. Bellow on, bushy-bearded sprinter, strider, bobber, galloper and scooper! Off into the sunset!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BRENDA WINEAPPLE--The Substance as well as the Style of Romantic Fiction.

Denis Donoghue accurately observed that “a lot” of Brenda Wineapple’s HAWTHORNE: A LIFE “is in the style of romantic fiction.” But romantic fiction is in the substance as well as the style of her book. After putting up my posts on the dismaying thicket of outright errors in her few pages on Hawthorne and Melville in 1850-1851, including the worst error ever made in a discussion of Melville, her failure to realize that he felt as spotless as the Lamb of God, not a Berkshire sheep, I want to make a point about how Wineapple envisions her scenes. In the previous blogs I have criticized her for not envisioning, for example, just what members of the Monument Mountain party Sophia Hawthorne saw on 5 August 1850 and for not envisioning Melville (in his voice as literary critic, before he decided to make the speaker of the MOSSES essay retroactively a Virginian vacationing in Vermont) as reclining inside the barn, not NEAR it. This is a failure to read documents skillfully, but it is also a failure to SEE the characters in action.

Intermixed with this lack of attention to documents is the wild imagination of a devotee of romantic fiction. Melville “is the daredevil who sprints from rock to jutting rock.” This is a movie version of Heathcliff? Melville strides “off the gangplank into a garret where he could dip his pen into the inkpot.” Did he, to start with, stride off a gangplank of lower himself on a rope ladder or go off the ship in another fashion? He certainly did not go into a dark garret. Here you have both the substance and the style of the most pathetic romantic fiction. In Wineapple you see the failure to employ a responsible , attentive imagination coupled with the reckless indulgence of an irresponsible imagination.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Biographer at work: one report from the trenches, 1989-1990

The Revolution was "not such a calm, majestic movement as I supposed," a child says in Hawthorne's "Liberty Tree."

Surely biography, by contrast, is a calm, majestic movement in which the writer does the first page, then the second page, and so on to the conclusion.

How one biographer worked:

20 December 1989. 344 pm 20th started writing Biography. Woke up rested & cheerful.
Happy mg--dancing around the job of starting to draft some pp of the Biography. Read Sandberg on "B[urgundy] Club"--incl new "The House of the Tragic Poet." . . . 28º and wcf [wind chill factor] of 0º but not very windy so Ran 4½. Reckless--after gg around Tower crossed frozen Brandywine over Swinging Bridge with no floorboards. Taking a big chance--so went home & started writing last chapter my key being decline of Hawthorne in ct to his [M's] decline. Never mind that I only did a page plus--I started. Lay down 20 mins, maybe 5 min deep sleep.

21 December Wed night Thurs mg. Restless night. 15º up to 25º before going down precipitously Thurs night. Wk on HM Biography--in a confused state, o/c--no tone established, & no sense of selectivity yet. Assembling material from various files--apparently I destroyed all the MD [Historical note] files!!
But be resolute--this o/c = a necessary stage.

22 Wkg on start of Pierre --why Mamma had more time to be on Herman's case.

23 Did not write any on biography (want to do s/t every day)

24 Trying Pierre--see I can't present all the evidence--have to give conclusions & blaze ahead not strewing page with "the evidence is" or probably or very likely--A new technique

27 At 7 am actually began the biography--"Pulled Hither & Thither"--on sale of NYC house and readjustment of expectations--doing a story. BEGAN (i.e. getting tone & proportion & strategies) working on early 1851.

28 December 1989 Up working on biog 2-3:30 & slept rest of night till 6 up there in 3rd floor.

30 Haunted--the Haunting by the Family has begun. Some work on Aug 1851. Sat. Morning 30th-- the problem starts--being haunted by a throng of characters. The sisters, Mamma, EAD, NH, Robert so I have to live with them for the next year and a half and have to find strategies for making this nocturnal haunting useful, focused.

1 January 1990. Melville biography absorbing all energy--awake at 1 am with the thronging, clamoring characters--result (immediately) of adding some parts of EAD letters not in Log

5 January 1990. Decided to start with Redburn, backing up to get a running start--& after a little confusion it went great & I got on to WJ before 5 pm. . . . So extremely busy [with other demands including Reading BILLY BUDD and the Checklist of Melville Reviews and The Powell Papers and the G. K. Hall book on MD]--& seeing that I will succeed if I just keep myself in the chair in front of the screen.

6 Some work on WJ period.

7 Up early & off (60 dollars each) to Wash DC . . . Natl Gallery East Wing for a terrifically spaced 49 ptg F. E. Church show incl one Kate gave to Albany Institute of History & Art--wow!

9 Awake at 130 & up till 430 wkg on BB book then jarred awake by alarm & bk to BB at nearly noon trying hard to keep my focus as I plow on thru the chapter-by-chapter section--aware of the need to keep an intensity going until I am done--& then to be vigilant as I revise on the screen. Exalted but fearful--exalted by the fact that almost all of it is good, fearful that I will not make all the needed final revisions.

10 up on BB 3am-5am then slept till 845

15 Did not get to write. . . . Trying to keep perspective on interruptions--part of the business of living.

22 January 1990 I am starting on getting Shak editions into biog summer 1850 section--HM & what was on his mind as he went to Pittsfield, aesthetic/historical problems.

23 Progressed on 1850 into Idyl in good day's work. . . . Worked 11-1 am. Realized EAD decided to stay till 12th on Wed or early Thurs (Maria knew)--Have to change LOG.

24 Almost prodigious day of pushing on through Aug 9-12

25 Up 130-330 a.m. on Aug 12-15 1850. Rain when I looked out at 330 am. 11 am that tension of not wanting to lose the momentum yet knowing that hours have to pass before I get down late Aug--WI[rving], Sophia, NH, Augusta--the retelling in sequence--. . . . [On Run at Water Tower:] Bummed paper & pencil at Sam Francis [DuPont] statue & made excellent notes on Sophia & Tappan & other motivations from Sept 50--coming alive--pushed on till 410 no nap. . . . About here the 25th I said, "I put it in the book already"--used the term "the book"--

26 Tired but soldiered on thru the day--inching up to purchase of Arrowhead & febrile about discoveries. . . . Realized how very pissed Leon would have been at what I've done in the last days--me the father pleaser.

29 January 1990 Mumford died Friday January 26 at 94.

2 February 1990 Up at 4 am needing to get down stoicism → recklessness & Mardi to EAD Feb 50--why HM cd let go.

7 February 1990 Slave labor up at 4:30 am pausing at 530 pm-- Drove thru Isle of the Cross & Office-Seeker

9 February 1990 Resigned from NCL & SAF & Review and other editorial boards. No time for them. Painful to resign from NCL.

15 February 1990 Jay Leyda dead 2 years--and today Willard Thorp died. Walking home, exhausted, umbrella--attacked in Plaza Parking lot by 8-10 black men (some teenagers)--hit with brick in left buttock--("You got a problem," I heard—as I was trying to get away.) . . . Chased them but in Earth Shoes--no help [from anyone].

16 February 1990 Work on [writing of] Typee trying not to lose momentum but wiped out from classes, [chairman's] insistence that his secretary can smoke directly under my cubicle], and gang attack--very perturbing, making me more wary than ever. Copy of Mod Lang Studies (Winter 1990) with Log article came 26 February 1990; Isle of the Cross offprints came from AL the same day

2 March 1990 Trip to NYC. NYPL. Got the Hoadley. Got Powell refs in EAD to GLD--Corrected some of the Picnic [on Monument Mountain] letters & got more refs to picnic 1850 then before noon in folder of undated letters from unidentified correspondents discovered HM letter to EAD-- Ecstatic trembled . . . . DISCOVERED A MELVILLE LETTER.

12 March 1990 Stunning letter from Nina Murray--AM to HM 17 Oct. 1844. [Henry Murray had owned it for decades.]

18 March 1990 Holland PA almost to Trenton. Fascinating. [Daughter-in-law of Milie, born 1849. Yes, daughter-in-law of the child born just after Malcolm.] Anna Morewood 84 years old, widow of Henry (Larry) Gansevoort--"The only Melville or Gansevoort that counts is the one standing in my own shoes." Locket February 1872 [each girl got a mourning locket charged to the estate] AM to Florence, Flo to Agnes--carte de visite photo of Allan. Gold--gorgeous Tiffany locket--Big, great photo of Allan in field north of Arrowhead--Took it off with me to have it copied. [She had Lathers's copper humidor.]

31 March 1990 Serious cleaning up--adding & moving about (of marginalia). Before getting out of bed the fine idea of saying "one 'decision'" [M made] was to take NH along on the journey [in Clarel].

March 1990--[Battling post-surgical infections all month and regularly sickened, desperately sickened, by tobacco at the university. Enlisted OSHA, who on 30 March said it was the dean's call--not true, I am sure--and the dean smokes. Among other things trying to figure out how to use Bezanson's 1960 introduction and yet update it.] Big confrontation 2-3 April 1990 everyone against me [on smoking] except Robinson.

Other things going on in 1990:

Member of the board of the University Press of Delaware, 1990-1991

"Authorial Intention and the New Historicism," given at the annual meeting of the Association for Documentary Editing in Washington, D. C., November 1989

"Writing a Life in a Decade of Theory," given in Albuquerque at a meeting of the English Department of the University of New Mexico, November 1990

"The Puissance and Pusillanimity of the Anthology Editor," delivered at the second American Literature Section session at the Chicago MLA, December 1990

"Historical Research vs. the New Historicism," given at the Melville panel organized by the Association for Documentary Editing at the Chicago MLA, December 1990

"Very Loose Fish," Melville Society Extracts, 75 (November 1988 [published November 1989]), pp. 14-15, a short version of the progress report on The New Melville Log in Modern Language Studies (Winter 1990).

"Billy Budd, Foretopman and the Dynamics of Canonization," College Literature, 17 (Winter 1990), pp. 21-32 (Bernard Oldsey's "Farewell Issue").

"Herman Melville's The Isle of the Cross: A Survey and a Chronology," American Literature, 62 (March 1990), pp. 1-16.

"The New Melville Log: A Progress Report and an Appeal," Modern Language Studies, 20 (Winter 1990), pp. 53-66.

"Melville to Duyckinck: A New Letter," Melville Society Extracts, 81 (May 1990), p. 9.

Review of David S. Reynolds's Beneath the American Renaissance, Modern Language Quarterly, 49 (September 1988 [published September 1990]), pp. 298-302.

"A Position Paper on Authorial Intention and the Socialization of Texts," Documentary Editing, 12 (September 1990), pp. 62-65. (This is part of an exchange of views; Jerome J. McGann's "The Socialization of Texts" appears on 56-61 in the same issue.)

Reading "Billy Budd" (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1990), pp. ix and 190.

Biographer at work: one report from the trenches, 1992

Writing Melville biography in 1992.

“So-—moments of triumph, hours of focussing, moving, selecting, shaping. Thank God for the computor.”

Now, it’s possible some biographer at some time had absolutely nothing else to do but write the biography. I am assuming that other biographers beside me lamented over and over again the effects of interruptions, both unavoidable ones like death and classes and casual, thoughtless ones. 1992 was difficult. We moved from one state to another. We had 2 deaths in the immediate family (a mother and brother); my rotator cuff was ripped painfully in January but surgery was postponed all year to appease the insurance company; I worked on a major revision of THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE and made several research trips.

Most recurrent theme: The threat of interruptions and actual interruptio

Professional activities:
Member of the National Endowment for the Humanities Publications Subvention panel, 29 May 1992

Author of the eulogy of Merton M. Sealts, Jr., and presenter of the Hubbell Medal to him at the American Literature Section luncheon, at the New York City MLA, December 28, 1992.

"Melville as Sex Symbol," given at a panel on Melville at the 3 April 1992 NEMLA meeting in Buffalo, New York.

"Extraordinary Twins: The New Critics and the New Historicists Read Pudd'nhead Wilson," given at the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, Clemson, S. C., April 25, 1992.

"The Morewoods' Fancy-Dress Pic-nics at Melville Lake," given on August 8, 1992, before the Berkshire County Historical Society, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at a fund-raiser for Melville's house, Arrowhead; the other speaker was the artist and Melville-lover, Maurice Sendak.

"Melville as Sex Symbol," repeated in a longer version at Nantucket, Massachusetts, in the Great Hall of the Athenaeum, October 13, 1992.

"'Poems by Herman Melville' (1860) and the Purpose of Melville's Reading on his Voyage around the Horn on the Meteor" delivered at "The American Renaissance and Historical Scholarship," an MLA session organized by David Reynolds for December 1992, NYC. (David S. Reynolds, Jerome Loving, Hershel Parker; Philip Gura respondant.)

Critical Essays on Herman Melville's MOBY-DICK, eds. Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (New York: G. K. Hall, 1992), xiii and 570. For this collection Higgins and I wrote the long introduction, pp. 1-36, and I wrote a separate piece for a "New Essays" section at the end of the volume, to which John Wenke and David S. Reynolds also contributed.

"Moby-Dick and Domesticity," pp. 545-562, in Critical Essays on Herman Melville's MOBY-DICK, eds. Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (New York: G. K. Hall, 1992), pp. 545-562.

"Letter to the Editor," Analytical & Enumerative Bibliography (1992), New Series 6, nos. 3 & 4, 216-217, response to an earlier letter from Fredson Bowers. (Published October 1994 although dated 1992.)

Perhaps my way of working was unusual. I had spent whole years transcribing new Melville documents into an increasingly massive computer LOG and now was reading long stretches of months and years in order to see how to break the information into clear narrative units.

Sample diary entries on 1853-1854:

30 July 1992: Worked on July-Sept. 1853. 12 pages after 2 days. Put in Happy, Fiddler, Cock, & something about Bartleby. John Hoadley. Lizzie neglected. So—moments of triumph—hours of focussing, moving, selecting, shaping. Thank God for the computor.

31 July 1992: Terribly hot & humid. Worked on 1853 in night & finished it early after getting back up. Then faced the awkwardness of 1854 & at last decided on narrative plus sections on long term CHANGES set in motion— Extremely difficult to isolate, leaving HM & Augusta & Lizzie & Composition to be told as narrative. Did not write at all—worked at organizing.

2 August 1992: 1854 = HARD—but I am writing & it only gets better.

3 August 1992: Some progress on 1854, organizing thematically the section to go after the wedding in January—before the year as it relates to HM & Lizzie & poor Augusta.

11 August 1992 [after trip to Gansevoort and Pittsfield]: Putting stuff in LOG and putting little touches in biography—surprising how much I brought back—including the clipping on Hoadley that gave me my key to Kate. At a novelistic phase—keys to character—Hoadley’s low confidential whisper.

20 August 1992 on talk with Hayford on phone (before he had read any of my drafts): “then talk about how different it is because of [so much new] information and because I am not Leon.”

Sunday, April 24, 2011

James Hime's WHERE ARMADILLOS GO TO DIE back cover

This is from my post on Sally Bushell's TEXT AS PROCESS:

Real living writers understand what I was saying in Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons. Here is a note I received in 2006 from James Hime, a mystery writer, an Edgar finalist, author most recently of Where Armadillos Go to Die: "Your book is more frightening to a writer than anything written by Stephen King or Thomas Harris. Anyone who has struggled with the urge to do what is required to get published, or to satisfy an agent's or editor's power lust, knows how easy it is to succumb to a 'you-must-destroy-the-village-in-order-to-save-it' proposition from the devil. When haunted by the thought that the manuscript that lies moldering under the bed may never see the light of day, any outrage or betrayal seems possible, indeed, justifiable. After reading Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons I looked in the mirror and said, on behalf of all writers, 'Guilty as charged.'" Yes, I was judgmental (and funny about it, downright sympathetic, I had thought), but I was absolutely right. Bushell cited me but did not engage the issues.

Paul Maher, Jr.--a biographer who respects facts--cover of Kerouac book

Paul Maher, Jr.--a biographer who respects facts

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The late Leo Lemay and his wife Ann in early 80s

Professor Damie Stillman to the left, Diane Stillman facing the Lemays

Hershel Parker and Heddy-Ann Richter

At Delaware professors holding an endowed chair got to dress up for dinner every Fall.

A bit of what Melville saw at the Museum of Natural History in Florence

More may follow.

Hershel Parker at Uncle James's name on a memorial at King's Mountain

John A. J. Costner 1832-1892

John Andrew Jackson Costner 1832-1892


A continuation of a close reading of Wineapple on Melville and Hawthorne. DOES ACCURACY MATTER IN BIOGRAPHY? AM I BEING PEDANTIC TO CARE ABOUT ACCURACY?

From the conclusion:
Would you give these pages anything above a D+ if you were grading sophomore papers? Yet go to and look at the ecstatic reviews of HAWTHORNE: A LIFE. To explain such mysteries you have to appeal to that Academic sense of Scratch-My-Back-and-I’ll-Scratch-Yours, for in certain moods no man can weigh the writing and reviewing of New York academic biography without throwing in something somehow like “Mutual Admiration Society” to strike the uneven balance.

224: Wineapple: “When Duyckinck returned to New York City, he carried the first installment of Melville’s review of Mosses from an Old Manse.”

No, he carried the full thing, and delayed his departure so he could carry the full thing. Wineapple ignores the detailed (I won’t say meticulous) account in the first volume of my biography of Melville (1996) in which I used the long-known documents along with documents in the 1983 NYPL-GL trove known as the “Augusta Papers.” My account totally superseded the account in the 1987 NN Piazza Tales &c volume. There are further details in my new footnotes to the Mosses essay in the 2nd Norton Critical Edition of MOBY-DICK, out in September 2001, for the sesquicentennial, in plenty of time for Wineapple to use them.

Every responsible teacher of MOBY-DICK knew that new textual information was in the 1967 first Norton edition and every teacher in 2001 and thereafter ought to have known that the newest information would be incorporated in the new edition. Why, by the way, is Wineapple not using the textual information in The Piazza Tales about the MOSSES essay and not using the information and the slightly improved text of the MOSSES essay in the new Norton Critical Edition? She makes no comment on her choice of text.

224: Wineapple: “Though it’s not clear when Melville began the review, whether before or after meeting Hawthorne” . . . .

Well, it certainly is clear, and if Wineapple wants to disagree with the evidence in my biography then she ought to challenge it rather than taking a doubtful position that would have been respectable before the Augusta Papers had been incorporated into the story but not afterwards.

224: Wineapple: “Pretending to be a Virginian on vacation in New England, he says he’s just read Hawthorne’s book while lying on the new-mown clover near the barn.” Well, where to begin? When Melville wrote the words about lying on clover he had not yet disguised himself by sticking Virginian into the title of his essay. He wrote the words in his “own” voice as literary critic. Then (oh, Wineapple’s recurrent failures to visualize) Melville does not say he is lying on clover NEAR the barn. The clover is already inside the barn, and the hill-side breeze is blowing over him through the wide barn door.

224-225. I am going to quote the whole little paragraph.

224-225: Wineapple:
Melville will set the record straight. “For spite of all the Indian-summer sunlight on the hither side of Hawthorne’s soul, the other side—like the dark half of the physical sphere—is shrouded in blackness, ten times black.” Melville understands despondency and vile doubt; they stalk him too, and he knows that what most reviewers term morbidness is the clear-eyed admission that all the tanks have been drained. It’s a perception that “derives its force from its appeals to that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin,” he continues, “from whose visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is always and wholly free. For, in certain moods, no man can weigh this world[,] without throwing in something, somehow like Original Sin, to strike the uneven balance.

224-225: In her commentary Wineapple identifies Hawthorne’s blackness as “despondency and vile doubt.” But between the passage about “Indian-summer sunlight” and the passage about “Innate Depravity and Original Sin” Melville does NOT deal with “despondency and vile doubt.” He is focussed, instead, on two possibilities. One is that as a prose artist Hawthorne consciously uses blackness for particular aesthetic effects (“the wondrous effects he makes it [the blackness] to produce in his lights and shades”). The other possibility is that there really lurks in Hawthorne (whether he is aware of it or not) “a touch of Puritanic gloom.”

“Puritanic gloom” is not the equivalent of “despondency and vile doubt,” which are merely obstacles on any pilgrim’s way to the celestial city. Puritanic gloom is the bleak outlook that comes from the conviction that all human beings are born damned to burn in Hell endlessly (unless they are somehow spared). This is not a light thought. Listen to T. Walter Herbert, Jr.: “the intellectual conflict between liberal and Calvinistic points of view was a potent ingredient in Melville’s psychic difficulties, not as a mask for ‘deeper’ problems merely, but as an authentic locus of psychic distress.” Herbert, I think accurately, distinguishes between Melville’s psychic suffering over a Calvinistic view of the world and Hawthorne’s melancholy ennui over such a tiring topic. In this passage this second possibility Melville attributes to Hawthorne is not one that Hawthorne went through life experiencing any great psychic agony about.

Back to Wineapple: She asserts that a particular perception “derives its force” from thoughts that one needs a concept like Original Sin to explain the world. The perception is merely this: “what most reviewers term morbidness is the clear-eyed admission that all the tanks have been drained.” I find this shift to empty tanks not only vulgar but nonsensical. There is nothing in the context about a writer’s writing himself out, exhausting his resources. One would like to survey the reviews of Hawthorne up through the reviews of The Scarlet Letter to see if “morbidness” is a recurrent them among reviewers. I can and have searched the word in Melville’s known reviews which I have in my computer and do not find “morbid” coming up before MOBY-DICK except in the Literary World assurance 17 November 1849 that REDBURN contained NO “morbid feeling” but rather a manly sense of actuality. Melville is not writing about tanks running dry, though you could argue that Hawthorne’s did run dry several years before he died. Wineapple's topic is an irrelevant intrusion here.

Yet the perception that the tanks have run dry derives its force from a Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, Wineapple says.

In her little sandwich of a paragraph Wineapple puts down one slice of richly textured Melville-bread (something like my strongest sourdough rye) then smears in a little layer of something she finds on a workbench in a garage, perhaps, a sentence about empty tanks, then asserts a connection between her smear and the next layer of Melville-bread. The little sandwich does not bond together. The Wineapple layer slides off onto the floor when you try to pick up the sandwich because it is totally irrelevant. The particular perception she mentions has nothing to do with what she has just quoted and nothing to do with what she goes on to quote.

225: A short paragraph from Wineapple: “Melville’s Man of Mosses (as he referred to Hawthorne in his review) is a man of brooding unbelief.”

Do not Melville’s queries about Hawthorne point to belief rather than unbelief? Take the paragraph that takes “Earth’s Holocaust” as portraying the sacrifice of all vanities until what remains is only “the all-engendering heart of man” from which new vanities will spring: that is Calvinistic, and it is belief, not unbelief.

Melville brooded about belief but he does not attribute such a brooding to Hawthorne.

225. Wineapple’s next paragraph is even stranger than the one I quoted above, the one beginning “Melville will set the record straight.” This one starts off by saying, infelicitously, that Melville was writing about Hawthorne and himself both. Then comes some of Wineapple’s romantic fiction: “For all his magniloquent prose, Melville pictures Hawthorne as a mate bobbing like him on the trouble seas of publishing, recognition, and posterity.” If there were not other still worse sentences in Wineapple, I would nominate that for one of the worst sentences in American literary criticism. Writing it seems to have upset Wineapple, for without anything intervening she lurches many months ahead: “’What I feel most moved to write, that is banned,--it will not pay,’ he would confide to his new friend. ‘Yet, altogether, write the other [other italicized] way I cannot.’” What? We were talking about Melville’s essay on Hawthorne’s MOSSES.

The next paragraph contains shocking vulgarities: “’Let him write like a man, for then he will be sure to write like an American,’ Melville boomed . . . .” Melville BOOMED?

“As for Hawthorne, he is the flesh and blood of the land.” No, he is “of” Americans’ own flesh and blood. He is not the American Christ, he’s just an authentic American.

Would you give these pages anything above a D+ if you were grading sophomore papers? Yet go to and look at the ecstatic reviews of HAWTHORNE: A LIFE. To explain such mysteries you have to appeal to that Academic sense of Scratch-My-Back-and-I’ll-Scratch-Yours, for in certain moods no man can weigh New York academic biography without throwing in something somehow like “Mutual Admiration Society” to strike the uneven balance.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Great Melville Authority Brenda Wineapple vs Harrison Hayford--Challenge to Wineapple

This is the first of three posts to be read as a group.

HERE IS SOME OF THE SCATHING DISMISSAL OF MY BIOGRAPHY BY BRENDA WINEAPPLE, WHO WROTE MUCH OF “HAWTHORNE: A LIFE” IN THE GENRE OF “ROMANTIC FICTION” (Denis Donoghue’s term in his review of her book)—Brenda Wineapple, whose outright errors (and pervasive vulgarities) about Melville and Hawthorne are detailed in other posts in my blog already posted and will be supplemented in more posts.

Brenda Wineapple accused me of “fudging the biographical imperative”; in her treatment of Melville and Hawthorne she did not fudge that imperative so much as repudiate it altogether for a prose that vacillates between “romantic fiction” and the luridness of the “bodice ripper.” Think of Melville sprinting from rock to jutting rock! Think of Melville spotless as a Berkshire lamb! Think of the years Wineapple had free to perfect her method of fictionalizing documentary material thanks to the ACLS and NEH!

Will you believe Hayford or Wineapple? Did Wineapple spend even one day on the two volumes of my biography of Melville? I vouch for HH’s spending the 10 days and nights he specifies he devoted to the first volume. (He did not live to read the second volume but he read a draft of it a decade before it was published.)

Wineapple in the NATION: As Hawthorne held Moby-Dick in his hand, "he could open the book in his nervous way (more nervous even than normally)," writes Parker, "and get from his friend a guided tour of the organization of the thing now in print, and even sample a few paragraphs that caught his eye or that the author eagerly pointed out to him." He could indeed. Whether he did is another matter, though not for Parker, as secure in his fantasy as Edmund Morris is in his imaginary Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. Yet despite the hulking material he's amassed from a mountain of newspapers, a fairly new cache of family papers and a host of collateral letters, to name just a few of his sources, Parker continually veers into unwonted speculation that then careens into certainty, moving back and forth between data and guesswork, seamlessly fusing the two and squandering his credibility as biographer along the way. . . .

Wineapple in the NATION: [Q]uestions remain, skirted by Parker, as if his dizzying array of biographical detritus would prevent our posing them. Cramming his book with long, bloodless catalogues of what Melville might have seen or read, Parker layers each sentence with so much stuff he sacrifices drama, insight and even, on occasion, grammar. "Knowing Melville's sightseeing habits as detailed in his journals," Parker obfuscates, "chances are he saw all he could see, keeping a lookout for superb views." He then provides us with all these vistas, plus newspaper reports and tangential historical information, fudging the biographical imperative: to show how Melville transforms the shaggy minutiae of life and its myriad characters (whether Hawthorne, Malcolm, a besieged wife or a shipmate) into an alembic of wishes, conflicts and disappointments that, taken together, reflect him, a mysterious, roiling, poignant writer alive, painfully alive, in every phrase he wrote.


I challenge Brenda Wineapple: take any 10 scenes in my biography and justify your saying that I “continually” veer “into unwonted speculation that then careens into certainty, moving back and forth between data and guesswork, seamlessly fusing the two” and squandering my “credibility as biographer along the way.” Brenda Wineapple, you got an early copy of my second volume in order to make this accusation in a way to set the tone for all subsequent reviews. Now you have matured even more as a scholar and are able to give examples of what you accuse me of, I invite you a fair debate. Show people what so offended you about my handling of evidence. I promise to swat up my Hawthorne scholarship to deal with you on your ground, too, on 10 scenes of my choosing from HAWTHORNE: A LIFE.

Great Melville Authority Brenda Wineapple vs Harrison Hayford, page one of HH's letter

Great Melville Authority Brenda Wineapple vs Harrison Hayford

Michael Gaynor's 7 June 2007 Article in which I Ended my Silent Suffering from Richard H. Brodhead's Lies

I owe my good health these last four years to deciding to speak out about the 2002 campaign to destroy my reputation as a scholar. This article by Michael Gaynor was the one in which I broke my silence. Gaynor constructed it mainly from emails that I sent him over the period of a few days, initially in his response to a query from a parent of one of the Duke lacrosse players about Brodhead's reputation as a scholar. I want to have it up here because over the next weeks I want to reflect publicly on my use of a religious term, mortal sin, in regard to Brodhead's simply erasing the lives and works of all the great scholars on whom I built my work on Herman Melville. And in anticipation of 7 June 2011 I want to thank Michael Gaynor for showing that his article can stay up alive on the Internet as long as the lies by Brenda Wineapple, Richard H. Brodhead, Andrew Delbanco, and Elizabeth Schultz. I did not mention Brenda Wineapple to Gaynor because she was not involved in the particular set of lies the others were and I did not mention her because her "review" was still too painful to deal with. As you see from my blog, I have begun to come to terms with her behavior. Michael Gaynor, bless you.

June 7, 2007
Richard Brodhead targeted Hershel Parker before Duke Lacrosse
By Michael Gaynor

"Rushing to judgment is part of Brodhead's character. The circumstances at Duke merely brought out what anyone who knew his history could have predicted: that he had led a sheltered existence that never had called forth a display of force derived from a personal history of striving and achieving and mastering difficult information and complex ideas. As the writer in the Providence JOURNAL said, Brodhead caved and failed. The wonder is that anyone thought he might behave differently than he did." Professor Hershel Parker

After the horrible Crystal Gail Mangum/Michael B. Nifong Hoax collapsed completely, The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper, interviewed Duke President Richard Brodhead, discreetly, and Mr. Brodhead said: "I always tried to be careful, to be mindful, to remember the degree of certainty and uncertainty we had about things." Earlier that day (April 12, 2007), Mr. Brodhead had issued a statement declaring, "We won't be afraid to go back and learn what we can from this experience."

Astonishingly, when prompted, Mr. Brodhead did not mention any lesson learned and instead told the interviewer: "I'm not going to say today that I know what the lessons would be, but actually, we have just lived through one of the most unprecedented situations in the history of modern universities. It's not every day that a university has to deal with a case with a district attorney framing the issues in an atmosphere of public certainty far in excess of the evidence that that person has."

In fact, Mr. Brodhead contributed mightily to that agonizing atmosphere of unwarranted "public certainty" and may never learn, much less apologize and try to atone. The "evidence" that Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong had consisted of a ludicrous gang rape claim by an unstable ex-convict stripper, told in contradictory versions, and DNA test results that showed multiple male DNA in or on her, but none of it matching any of the persons who supposedly attacked her. There was no kidnapping, rape or sexual offense, and no bona fide evidence to suggest that any of those horrendous crimes had been committed against the false accuser by anyone, much less any (white) member of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team (the false accuser having given the black team member a pass). Even after North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper took the unusual step of stating that the evidence showed innocence, Mr. Brodhead was insinuating that Mr. Nifong had evidence, but not enough evidence, even after it was obvious that the defendants had not been prosecuted in good faith.

I recently reported that a parent of one of the unindicted team members abandoned by Duke under Mr. Brodhead's "leadership" had sent me the following (restrained) evaluation: "I can't comment on [Mr. Brodhead's] scholarship, since I am not a Shakespeare expert. However, in terms of the other criteria, Brodhead has, in my opinion, fallen woefully short of expectations in his performance in the lacrosse incident, arguably the most prominent in Duke's history. Leadership qualities are best measured under difficult circumstances. Based on this, I believe Brodhead has failed miserably as the leader of Duke University."

I wondered whether a scholar would come forward to challenge Mr. Brodhead and one did!

On June 4, 2007, I received this intriguing email: "Have you seen one of the two comments I have posted on the Duke Chronicle? Brodhead in the New York Times in 2002 filched from me my good name."

My emailer was (and is) Hershel Parker: H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus at the University of Delaware, associate general editor of the Northwestern-Newberry The Writings of Herman Melville, author of Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons, Reading "Billy Budd", the 1995 edition of Melville's Pierre, or, The Ambiguities, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, the two-volume Herman Melville: A Biography, 1819-1851 (1996) and Herman Melville: A Biography, 1851-1891 (2002)(the first volume having been a Pulitzer finalist and each having won the highest award from the Association of American Publishers' Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division).

Indisputably, Professor Parker is a bona fide scholar as well as a man with a reason to appreciate what that parent had told me about how insidious a wordsmith like Mr. Brodhead can be: wicked words in a New York Times book review written by Mr. Brodhead when he was teaching American literature at Yale University as A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English and also serving as dean of Yale College. [Note: Mr. Brodhead's review was entitled "All in the Family" and fellow Melville scholar Brodhead seemed to be insinuating that premier Melvile scholar Parker had made some "Archie Bunker" surmises, while carefully paying the expected homage to a monumental work (900+ pages) that complimented a prior monumental work (900+ pages) that New York Times Magazine had called "[u]nquestionably the most searching biography ever written on Herman Melville"; Times Higher Education Supplement deemed "[o]ne of the most complete and staggeringly researched biographies of an American novelist ever published" and "certain[] [to] remain the undisputed standard Melville biography for many years to come"; Times Literary Supplement called "Hershel Parker's magnum opus" and "a magisterial work of retrieval and unflagging scholarship, whose sheer diversity of detail adds human complexity to what earlier often seemed no more than an inert chronicle"; and Library Journal said "[c]ast every earlier biography into shadows."

Professor Parker on Mr. Brodhead: "Recent articles have observed blandly that Brodhead, being a great scholar, can still go back to the classroom. Well, he may be an amazingly entertaining performer in the classroom, but no one can be a great teacher without having himself or herself contributed to knowledge on what he or she is teaching. Brodhead has never added a grain to knowledge about Melville. Yet he exercised the power of his position as a dean at Yale to advise the book-reading public that my biography, the product of years of archival research, was unreliable. Rushing to judgment is part of Brodhead's character. The circumstances at Duke merely brought out what anyone who knew his history could have predicted: that he had led a sheltered existence that never had called forth a display of force derived from a personal history of striving and achieving and mastering difficult information and complex ideas. As the writer in the Providence JOURNAL said, Brodhead caved and failed. The wonder is that anyone thought he might behave differently than he did."

The parent: "Brodhead was careful in including the presumption of innocence wording in his many statements but this was not to protect and support the players but rather to try to limit his and Duke's liability. This wording was usually 'buried' or near the end of his statements, almost as an afterthought. In fact, the preponderance of the very passionate and inflammatory words in his statements would lead a reader to conclude that Brodhead believed that the lacrosse players were bad characters who were very capable of committing the horrific crimes with which they were wrongly charged. And his actions clearly supported a presumption of guilt, not innocence. Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, described this very well in a recent article he wrote about the Duke case in National Review, as follows: 'This year, after all the charges have collapsed like a house of cards, the campus lynch mob — including Duke University President Richard Brodhead — are backpedaling swiftly and washing their hands like Pontius Pilate. They deny ever saying the students were guilty. Of course not. They merely acted as if that was a foregone conclusion, while leaving themselves an escape hatch. It is bad enough to be part of a lynch mob. It is worse to deny that you are part of a lynch mob, while standing there holding the rope in your hands.'"

Professor Parker (in an April 12, 2007 post on The Chronicle's website): "Brodhead's rush to judgment is characteristic. In the New York Times on 23 June 2002 he told the world that I made up two lost books that Melville wrote, THE ISLE OF THE CROSS (1853) and POEMS (1860). Earlier scholars like Merton Sealts had been sure Melville finished a book in 1853; I discovered the title and completion date in 1987. We had known since 1922 that Melville finished POEMS. His instructions on publishing it have been printed many times, including in the 1960 LETTERS and the 1993 CORRESPONDENCE. Brodhead savaged my reputation. He did not behave better with the reputations of the three young men [Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans].

Professor Parker took offense at this paragraph in Mr. Brodhead's review: "Equally interesting are Parker's surmises about works Melville never published that did not survive. He makes the case that in 1852-53 Melville wrote a novel based on materials he shared with Hawthorne about a sailor who deserted his wife. If this is true, then the theory that Melville renounced writing after 'Pierre' is just wrong, and the mysterious leap from 'Pierre' to the work he published after a silence, the very different 'Bartleby the Scrivener,' can be explained in a new way. Parker is also convinced that Melville prepared a volume of poems in 1860 that failed to be published. If this is so, a stretch that had seemed empty of literary strivings was instead a time of new effort and new failure — a black hole Parker alone has the instruments to detect."

To call a biographer's facts "surmises" is to dispute the biographer's integrity.

Notably, Douglas Brinkley, who reviewed the book for Los Angeles Times Book Review, made no snide insinuation about Professor Parker's scholarship: "Parker's impressive scholarship and a vigorous analysis are cause for celebration. Too often reviewers misuse the word 'definitive'; not so in this case. The meticulous Parker has practically reconstructed Melville's DNA and in doing so has rendered American literature a signal service. Parker recounts Melville's chronic bad luck, epic writing binges, failed lectures, surreal visions and troubled marriage. It's a saga of genius refusing to be derailed. But Parker unearths a plethora of new material, including previously unknown family correspondence and even the title and plot of Melville's long-lost novel, The Isle of the Cross."

An anonymous poster at The Chronicle's website inquired of Professor Parker:

"Is there an earlier (maybe print) version where he [Mr. Brodhead] is more overt in his attack on you. Or is Brodhead simply being as subtle, cowardly and manipulative on this occasion as he has been for the last year?

"Also, was this paragraph above regarded as an attack on your reputation by Mr Brodhead by others at the time?"

Excellent questions.

Professor Parker's reply:

"This is a reply to 'tc.' I assumed that trying to get the New York Times to print a letter correcting Brodhead would be futile. As it turned out, I should have tried to get some sort of protest on record. There was no protest from any Melville critic. Quite the contrary! Two other critics echoed Brodhead's accusations. Andrew Delbanco in the New Republic (September 2002) warned that my second volume, like the first, 'must be used with caution': "For one thing, Parker is amazingly certain of his own conclusions. . . . He is sure that immediately after completing PIERRE, Melville wrote an unpublished novel . . . inspired by a story he had heard about a sailor . . . . He is sure that when Melville traveled by slow boat to San Francisco in 1860, he expected to find waiting for him a finished copy of a book of poems that he had entrusted in manuscript to his brother for transmission to his publishers before leaving the East. (Such a book was never published — and it is a surmise that Melville ever wrote it.) . . . . In short, Parker trusts his own intuition completely, and, presenting inferences as facts, he expects his readers to trust it, too." Then in The Common Review (Winter 2002), Elizabeth Schultz echoed Brodhead and Delbanco: 'Parker also reads betrayal and despair into the disappearance of two manuscripts, which he contends Melville completed — a novel, putatively titled THE ISLE OF THE CROSS, and his first collection of poems.' To repeat, Melville scholars including Davis and Gilman in the LETTERS (1960) and Merton M. Sealts, Jr., in the 'Historical Note' to the Northwestern-Newberry PIAZZA TALES volume (1987) had asserted on the basis of documentary evidence that Melville completed a book in the spring of 1853. What I found in 1987 was the title, THE ISLE OF THE CROSS, and the date of completion, 22 May, or something very close to that date. All of this has been common knowledge since I published in a Duke journal in 1990. The Melville biographer Raymond Weaver did not know that Melville had completed a book in 1853. Weaver did not know about POEMS (1860) either. It seems that the critics Brodhead, Delbanco, and Schultz stopped reading with Weaver. The year after Weaver's biography appeared, Meade Minnigerode published a group of documents about POEMS (1860), including Melville's 12-point memo to his brother on how he wanted the poems treated. The documents left no doubt that the volume had been submitted and rejected. In 1938 Willard Thorp reprinted some of these documents, as Jay Leyda did in 1951 in THE MELVILLE LOG (adding another rejection from a publisher). Leon Howard in 1951 also knew of POEMS, as did every scholar after 1922. Melville memo to his brother, being a letter, was printed in full in the 1960 LETTERS and the 1993 CORRESPONDENCE, and of course was widely quoted and discussed. Every scholar knew about it. The effects of Brodhead, Delbanco, and Schultz are hard to pin down, but when someone cites one of them as the basis for saying I am a slippery fish with evidence and someone else says I argue that Melville had a book of poems ready for publication in 1860, the effects are apparent. (I made no such argument about POEMS at all, there being nothing to argue about.) The worst may be that the afterlife of false accusations is now indefinite. Last I checked (and it is painful to check), all three of these slurs were sparkling vividly on the Internet. You realize that these three are critics who did no 19th century archival research and who apparently do not believe that anything new can be found. Brodhead, I believe, was trained by Feidelson. Paul Lauter has described the death of scholarship at Yale, the day in the early 1950s when students came to class with notes from Stanley T. Williams's classes and found Feidelson talking New Critical talk about cloud imagery in Emerson or some such thing. Trained as he was and sheltered at Yale so long, Brodhead knows nothing of real scholarship — and apparently has a lot to learn about the real world beyond his Yale, the world where false accusations really do hurt people."

Mr. Brodhead's reaction to the Hoax did not surprise Professor Parker.

Professor Parker:

"Folk wisdom is vindicated by Brodhead's behavior as President of Duke University: character reveals itself under pressure; the mills of the gods grind slowly but they grind exceeding small. Brodhead rushed to judgment on me, as he did on the lacrosse players, and did incalculable damage to my reputation. From the early 1950's on the New Criticism, which considered biographical evidence irrelevant to interpretation, has been triumphant in many American colleges. The retirement of Williams in 1953 and his succession by Charles F. Feidelson was emblematic. As Paul Lauter has described, students showed up for class in 1953 with notes on history, biography, and bibliography from Williams's old classes and found the notes were useless. That day Feidelson talked about cloud imagery in Emerson or some other New Critical fetish. From that date, American literary scholarship was dead at Yale. Feidelson's students, among them Richard Brodhead, never learned the basic aims and methods of scholarship, as opposed to criticism. Brodhead never did archival research on Melville. Because of the incestuous hiring policy at Yale by the 1990s Feidelson's student Brodhead and his own students behaved as if no new discoveries could come from biographical research.

"My archival work on Melville and politics made me a belated member of this group scholars who in the 1940s had set out to discover what could be known factually about Herman Melville (not only Williams's Yale students but also Wilson Heflin from Vanderbilt and the ineffable, elusive Jay Leyda from Ohio, or Russia, or Red China). When I began research in 1962 I found, repeatedly, that no one had asked to see certain documents since the 1940s. At the NYPL Merrell Davis had been allowed to look at some pages of Gansevoort Melville's London diary but not to hold it in his own hands. When I asked to see it I was told Sorry, it was on hold. It was handed over to me once I pointed out that the man it was held for had been dead for years. And yes, I could edit it and they would publish it at the NYPL. I was too happy working in the archives to worry about how unfashionable and isolated I was, but over the next decades I sat next to fewer and fewer academics at the microfilm readers and more and more bookies and genealogists.

"Taking it for granted that my new research into Melville's life would be welcomed, I was blindsided when reviewers of my two volume biography (Johns Hopkins 1996 and 2002) set out to destroy my credibility by claiming that I had invented episodes such as a book completed in 1853 (basic facts about which had been brought out by the old Yale scholars in 1946, 1960, and 1987, although I did not discover the title of the book and the date of completion until later in 1987) and a volume of poems completed in 1860 (the facts of which had been common knowledge since 1922). As I write, three such reviews, by Richard Brodhead (23 June 2002 New York Times), Andrew Delbanco, and Elizabeth Schultz, are still on the Internet, false accusations glittering brightly every day. Secure as a dean at Yale in 2002, sheltered from the intellectual strain of challenging research, and sheltered from real consequences of his accusations, Brodhead rushed to judgment on me just as he rushed to judgment at Duke."

I'm sure "the parent" would agree. After all, the parent wrote: "Brodhead, in speaking at the annual meeting of the Durham Chamber of Commerce [on April 20, 2006], said: 'If our students did what is alleged it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn't do it, whatever they did was bad enough.' Brodhead made this statement shortly after Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were indicted on 4/17/06 and after it was publicly announced (4/10/06 ) that initial DNA tests failed to connect any of the players to the false accuser."

Professor Parker advised me that he read Mr. Brodhead's review as "devastatingly undercutting any belief in [his] honesty as a biographer," so I asked him to elaborate.

Professor Parker:

"Of course I do make many surmises, at other points, and make it very clear when I do. The sin Brodhead commits is to tell the readers of the New York Times that only I make these particular 'surmises,' that only I (and here he is of course ironic) have the 'instruments' to explore the black hole. That's just a lie — I built on Hayford, Davis-Gilman, and Sealts for what I thought about Melville's work on a new book early in 1853. They had made the surmises as they mustered the facts. Actually, I did not surmise at all: Hayford did, then Davis-Gilman and Sealts had more evidence which removed the subject from the realm of surmise. Again, all I found was the title, The Isle of the Cross, and the date of completion, and a few more particulars. And as for POEMS, it's hard to know what to say, since everyone had known all about it since 1922. Having read the reviewers of my Vol. 2, Edgar Dryden in THE MONUMENTAL MELVILLE (2004) says on 207 that I argue convincingly that Melville tried to publish a book of poetry in 1860. NO, NO!!! I don't argue it at all. I just go over the factual information known since 1922 (and 1951, for one document). The reviewers have tainted the picture. There is nothing at all to argue about.

"There is no respected authority left except Walter Bezanson, who is 95 or so. Sealts and Hayford are dead now.

"Brodhead's innuendo about my 'surmises' (which implies in the absence of facts) casts its shadow over all the review. The pattern is pretty forceful: 'He makes the case . . . . If this is true . . . . Parker is also convinced that . . . . If this is so . . . .' The worst of it came later, when other reviewers took off from this paragraph. Did Andrew Delbanco in the New Republic (September 2002), p. 34, independently come up with the same two examples in order to show my second volume, like the first, 'must be used with caution'? Delbanco pushes farther than Brodhead: 'For one thing, Parker is amazingly certain of his own conclusions. . . . He is sure that immediately [I did not say immediately] after completing Pierre, Melville wrote an unpublished novel (Parker implies that after failing to find a publisher, Melville burned it) inspired by a story he had heard about a sailor who disappears for thirty years, then returns to the wife for whom he has become a distant memory. He is sure that when Melville traveled by slow boat to San Francisco in 1860, he expected to find waiting for him a finished copy of a book of poems that he had entrusted in manuscript to his brother for transmission to his publishers before leaving the East. (Such a book was never published — and it is a surmise that Melville ever wrote it. ['Surmise' echoes Brodhead. Of course it is not a 'surmise' at all — see Melville's memo to his brother Allan on the publication of his verses.]) . . . . In short, Parker trusts his own intuition completely, and, presenting inferences as facts, he expects his readers to trust it, too.

"Wittingly or not, Brodhead set this up for Delbanco. Brodhead and Delbanco refrained even from naming The Isle of the Cross, as if the title gave it too much actuality. Elizabeth Schultz in The Common Review (Winter 2002), p. 45, complained: 'Parker also reads betrayal and despair into the disappearance of two manuscripts, which he contends Melville completed — a novel, putatively titled The Isle of the Cross, and his first collection of poems. Throughout his biography, Parker bemoans the loss of The Isle of the Cross's ghostly manuscript, imagining Melville's regret at never having found a publisher for it. Although there is only tentative evidence for the manuscript's existence and submission to a publisher, its ostensible rejection leads Parker to view his heroic author as victimized: "masterful as he could be, [Melville] had a way now, after the failure of Moby-Dick and Pierre, of seeing himself as passive victim to whom things were done."' Brodhead gave Delbanco and Schultz the blessing of the New York Times for their continuing to slur me.

"In his 2005 book Delbanco mentions the existence of The Isle of the Cross and Poems without a word of apology to me. (He did not even mention me as a Melville researcher in the advance proofs, then in the book he lumps me in with two somewhat unequal contributors!)

"The critics Brodhead, Delbanco, and Schultz are all highly respected. Can they not have read Melville's letters? Apparently they did not read anything after 1921. They did not go to the archives, any of them. Brodhead says nothing like this, but here is Delbanco on the horror that a delicate soul experiences when confronted with the possibility of pursuing archival research: 'A few summers ago, I had an experience that left me feeling hesitant to invade his [Melville's] posthumous privacy. I was in the reading room of the Houghton Library, holding in my hands a note from a former shipmate who had written to Melville to tell him he had named his son after him, and to beg him for a visit or a keepsake. Turning the pages of this letter that Melville himself had once removed in surprised anticipation from an envelope bearing the name of a friend from whom he had not heard in years, I felt that I was eavesdropping, like a tourist in a church who comes upon a worshipper kneeling in prayer.'" So much for Parker, who had brutishly transcribed hundreds of intimate private letters, coldly violating Melville's privacy decade after unsavory decade in his pursuit of material for a biography — a biography marred by reckless surmises.

"The great sin may not be Brodhead's slyly insinuating that I am guilty of erratic surmises passed off as fact. The real sin is that he pretended to scholarly knowledge. He took on the assignment of reviewing the second volume of my biography knowing what sort of book it would be. The biography was based on many years of archival research, as the chart of correspondents in the back shows, and based on many months in the newspaper archives, as nothing in the book shows, since I, with Brian Higgins, had published almost all the reviews in a Cambridge U P book, and therefore cited them only by paper and date. That is, much of the research was not called attention to, since we had a published source, our own collection, which I could cite once. Before agreeing to review such a book Brodhead ought to have known 'all' Melville scholarship, at least all the basic tools. I don't mean readings of Moby-Dick — I mean serious source studies, careful studies of the historical context, basic tools. The basic tools start with Jay Leyda's 1951 THE MELVILLE LOG: A DOCUMENTARY LIFE and continue with the Northwestern-Newberry editions of Melville (13 of the 15 volumes published in 2002) and a few other basic works such as Sealts's MELVILLE'S READING and Bercaw's MELVILLE'S SOURCES. Anyone who agreed to review my biography ought to have known Melville's LETTERS (1960) or the fuller NN volume of CORRESPONDENCE (1993). Brodhead ought even to have known my 1990 AMERICAN LITERATURE (a Duke publication) article on The Isle of the Cross. He certainly ought to have known about POEMS, from Thorp in 1938, in the widely used REPRESENTATIVE SELECTIONS, from Leon Howard's biography in 1951, from the LOG in 1951, from the LETTERS in 1960 and so on. This is in every Melville biography after Weaver (1921). Even the non-scholarly Mumford knew about it by 1929. Anyone taking on the job of reviewing a man's life's work for the New York TIMES has the moral obligation of knowing enough to appreciate what is new in it, knowing enough to appreciate the evidence given when (as in Melville's case) the documents may be scanty. In fact, I discovered a good number of wholly unknown episodes in Melville's life by reading documents no one else had read, and in fact I made some surmises based on what evidence I had; always I made it clear what the evidence was, and why I was assuming something happened. Neither THE ISLE OF THE CROSS nor POEMS was in the dubious category. As I said yesterday, there were no surmises about them, just information being conveyed, with the exception that I made the assumption, as Hayford had done in 1946, and as others had done, on the basis of a straightforward statement by Melville in December 1852, that the book he finished in 1853 was a telling of the story of Agatha Hatch, however disguised. So Brodhead never weighed my evidence when he might have made a case for my assuming something without full documentation, and he never admitted that I had abundant evidence for the two episodes he questioned.

"You won't know that I have expanded Leyda's 900 page LOG and the 90 page 1969 supplement (half of which I contributed) into a 9000 (yes, nine thousand) page electronic log, an archive of archives built up between 1986 and the present, but very large by the mid 1990s. Every known letter to and from, every review, every newspaper or magazine article up through HM's death — anything anyone said about him that anyone had found or that I found. This means that I could triangulate amazingly. I could tell where people were, I could identify strange names (I mean of course through computer searches), I could tell what reviewer was copying what reviewer. This work rests in my computer, probably unpublishable.

"I could direct you to a man somewhat younger than me, Professor Robert Madison at the Naval Academy, who knows about The Isle of the Cross and Poems. He is one of Hayford's students, like me. You see, the only great scholars were the 1940s Yale group, the maverick Jay Leyda (a film scholar), and the isolated Vanderbilt student Wilson Heflin (Senator Heflin's brother — I could show you my praise of him in the posthumous book on M's Whaling Years). No one devoted his life to Melville after 1951 through the 50s, when the New Criticism ruled, and the only one who took up research in the 60s, beginning in 1962, just happened to be me because I had a strange background and escaped the New Critical indoctrination. (Depression Okie who had to drop out of school to become a railroad telegrapher for 7 years — not a normal background.)

"Anyhow, not to know scholarship yet to claim to be an authority on a writer is a mortal sin. You see why: by his arrogant silence about the writings of scholars like Hayford, Sealts and a few others, Brodhead acts as if these heroic workers had never arduously distilled the essence of their thoughts and laid it in print before lovers of Melville. He acts as if they never existed. And to review a man's life work frivolously in the New York Times is a mortal sin. I was ill in 2002, partly from exhaustion at getting Vol. 2 out, partly because I was having a series of surgeries I had postponed, and by November I was as near suicide as I had ever been. To have my work trashed by critics who had never done any archival work — it was too hard. Ask the Duke lacrosse players and their parents if they have all been made whole again. I don't think so. I got on with my life, that November, but it's been hard to live with lies. I could have lived with any criticism which engaged my evidence and brought forth other evidence wisely. I joke that I was taught to pray for those who despitefully use me and was baffled at first when I prayed for Brodhead and God made him President of Duke.

"You understand the distinction I am making: a scholar adds to knowledge (this is 2% of the writers on Melville); a critic may ignore scholarship or toy with it (this is 97% of all writers on Melville); a great reader is a scholar-critic, as Hayford was."

Mr. Brodhead definitely is not as harmless as he looks.

© Michael Gaynor