In MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE I tell about the turning point in the Melville Society in 1990, when a satanic red-bearded stranger stood in the doorway urging on a leftist crowd by shouting, "THE FACTS DON'T MATTER!"
REFLECTIONS ON THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION'S "A LEVIATHAN TASK OF BIOGRAPHY":
The 11 February 2013 Chronicle Review gave a whole page to my MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE. Much of the article is accurate reporting of a telephone conversation with me. But there was a clearly deliberate decision NOT to report the actual grievance I had against Brodhead and Delbanco. As you all know, they lied about me, saying I had made up lost Melville books. Brodhead said I alone in my "black hole" had imagined the 1860 POEMS. Delbanco said that because I had merely surmised THE ISLE OF THE CROSS (1853) and POEMS (1860) I could not be trusted anywhere in either volume of my biography. (As you also know, Delbanco casually mentioned the existence of these book lost books in his 2005 book, with no explanation of how he had learned of them.)
Instead of saying, "Parker protests against lies that damaged his reputation," the CHRONICLE says that I found myself "at odds with such Melville scholars as Richard Brodhead (who raised questions about Parker's 'editorial principles' in The New York Times) and Andrew Delbanco (who, while criticizing Parker's misreading of sex and sin, did declare, in The New York Review of Books, that 'Parker's biography is written with love and devotion'). Critics' skepticism centered on two issues: the name of a lost Melville story ('The Isle of the Cross') and the importance of an 1860 manuscript called 'Poems.'"
Notice that Brodhead is called a "scholar" instead of a critic. "Editorial principles" of course has nothing to do with what Brodhead did to me. He lied in such a way as to suggest to every reader of the Times that I had fabricated two lost books. How the reporter could have arrived at a term like "editorial principles" is beyond my imagining! And what he quotes from Delbanco is not from the 2002 review of my Vol. 2 in the New Republic. And of course there is no argument about the NAME of a lost book (not just a story)--Delbanco accused me of making up both the 1853 book and the 1860 book, and then went on to say this showed that I could not be trusted anywhere.
What is so hard about saying that the dean of Yale College and a chaired professor at Columbia lied? Well, something is so hard that it made the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION falsify what I say in the book and what Brodhead and Delbanco actually did.
What does this say about corruption at the top?
As I say, I am pretty content with most of what the Chronicle did this week--but just amazed at the arrogance of their protecting Brodhead and Delbanco. A HIGHER Board of Trustees than the Duke BofT? And at Duke Brodhead has cost tens of millions in settlements involving the false rape charges against members of the lacrosse team, medical instruments washed in dirty hydraulic fluids, a phony miracle cancer cure (the Potti scandal), and now seems to be wasting enormous sums in a poorly supervised and largely secretive Kollege Kampus in Kunshan. Why is the CHRONICLE protecting him?
Why can't the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION use words like "falsification" and "misrepresentation" even if they are unwilling to say "lies"? Why INVENT issues between me and Brodhead and Delbanco rather than identifying the real issues?
This gets to big questions about the state of "higher education"!