In many ways the culmination of a scholarly career, the biography garnered Parker awards from the Association of American Publishers, recognition as a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and, to Parker's mind, unwarranted condemnation from many within the academy.
Critical reviews appeared in newspapers, magazines, and journals, and Parker, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Delaware, found himself 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." A falling-out followed, and Parker, who felt he had been victimized, drifted away from groups like the Melville Society.
"EDITORIAL PRINCIPLES" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MY COMPLAINTS ABOUT BRODHEAD. THE REVIEW BY DELBANCO IS NOT EVEN THE REVIEW OF THE BIOGRAPHY, VOL. 2 (2002). THE "NAME" OF THE BOOK WAS NOT AN ISSUE--IT WAS ITS EXISTENCE. BRODHEAD AND DELBANCO LIED ABOUT ME, SAYING I SURMISED OR OUTRIGHT INVENTED 2 LOST BOOKS. BRODHEAD SAID I ALONE IN MY "BLACK HOLE" HAD HEARD OF POEMS. DELBANCO WENT ON TO SAY THAT EVERYTHING I SAID WAS SUSPECT BECAUSE I HAD INVENTED THE 2 BOOKS--EVERYTHING HAD TO BE USED WITH CAUTION. THIS COULD NOT BE CLEARER. I SAID IT MORE THAN ONCE IN THE BOOK TO SUGGEST HOW THEIR SLANDER HAD SPREAD ON THE INTERNET.
HOW DO YOU ACCOUNT FOR THE WORDS QUOTED ABOVE FROM THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION? i WAS VERY CLEAR IN THE INTERVIEW. I THINK SOMEONE ABOVE THE REPORTER INTERVENED. ANOTHER REASON FOR THINKING SO IS THAT SEVERAL DAYS AFTER THE INTERVIEW SOMEONE FROM THE CHRONICLE ASKED If A PHOTO OF ME THEY HAD WAS OK TO RUN. I SAID OK. EVEN ON THE FRIDAY BEFORE THE MONDAY THE REPORTER THANKED ME FOR AGREEING TO LET THEM USE THE PHOTO AND DID A LITTLE FACT CHECKING--BUT THE CORRECTIONS WERE NOT USED ON MONDAY. THE PHOTO WAS NOT USED, EITHER--AND JUST AS WELL!
I AM NOT PARANOID, FOLKS. THESE PEOPLE PROTECT THEIR OWN. AND THEY ARE USED TO GETTING AWAY WITH IT.