Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Black Holes of Stephen Hawking and Richard H. Brodhead


Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has shaken up the popular science world with his newest study about the basic nature of black holes, but is his idea revolutionary? Some scientists aren't convinced.
Hawking's new black hole study — entitled "Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes" — was published Jan. 22 through the preprint journal and has not yet undergone the peer review vetting process typical for academic papers. It attempts to solve a paradox surrounding the basic building blocks of how the universe works.
"Hawking's paper is short and does not have a lot of detail, so it is not clear what his precise picture is, or what the justification is," Joseph Polchinski of the Kavli Institute wrote in an email to [The Strangest Black Holes in the Universe]
Current theories about black holes hinge upon what's known as the "firewall paradox." This paradox pits Einstein's theory of general relativity against quantum theory in the context of a black hole. The paradox, developed by Polchinski and colleagues about two years ago, is based upon a thought experiment about would happen to a person if he or she fell into a black hole.

Richard H. Brodhead, the New York TIMES, 23 June 2002, on a "black hole" I alone had the instruments to detect."

Richard Brodhead, Andrew Delbanco, and Elizabeth Schultz in 2002 expressed their high-minded doubts as to the existence of The Isle of the Cross in 1853 and a volume Melville called Poems in 1860. I had merely surmised that Melville completed a book in 1853, said Brodhead, by then the dean of Yale College, in the June 23, 2002, New York Times. My surmises went on: “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” (13). Andrew Delbanco, the Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, known to be a biographer-in-waiting, in the New Republic (September 2002) declared that I was “amazingly certain” (34) of my own conclusions, such as Melville’s completion of a book in 1853 (merely a surmise, he said) and Poems in 1860 (it “was never published—and it is a surmise that Melville ever wrote it”). Delbanco warned that my certainty of my conclusions meant that the second volume, like the first, “must be used with caution” (34). Elizabeth Schultz in the Common Review (Winter 2002) gave a further punitive twist to the accusations: “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” (45). As Backscheider says, “For an academic to be accused of ‘making up things’ . . . is the most serious charge that can be levelled against him or her and may discredit that person forever” (xix). I may die still widely discredited and shamed in print and on the Internet by the false accusations of these three Melville critics, but starting in 2007 I have been trying to make the truth known, even at the cost of some barely perceptible repetitions.
            In dismissing me as the sole adventurer to bring back a report from that “black hole,” Brodhead was dismissing three quarters of a century of scholarship. To be blunt, Brodhead was acting as if the scholars from Minnigerode on had never labored in the archives, never published their discoveries, never rejoiced when later workers added their supplementary findings. I alone “had the instruments to detect” Poems, so I had fantasized it. I was an unreliable biographer, and the scholars I had revered and built upon had never existed. I have talked about Brodhead’s blindness to human agony. He, Delbanco, and Schultz also display here something worse: blindness to human existence, blindness to the working lives of remarkable scholars. They dismiss scholars like Thorp and Hayford as if they had never existed. I emphasize this again to make clear the wreckage Charles N. Feidelson made of scholarship at Yale and other Ivy League universities and the contempt for human beings which his principles encouraged.
               Does such slander in the mainstream media matter, except to the person whose reputation is being damaged and to the children and grandchildren of the now-dead scholars whose memories are erased? Yes, for such false proclamations still confuse the innocent critic who reads the slanderers but not the scholarship. Apparently influenced by one or more of these critics, Edgar A. Dryden in 2004 (207 n. 2) said, “Hershel Parker argues convincingly that Melville tried unsuccessfully to publish a book of poems in 1860.” No, no! In my biography there is no such argument. Why would I argue something everyone knew? Instead, I merely make a fresh presentation of the long-familiar evidence that when Melville sailed from Boston with his brother in 1860 he left behind in manuscript a volume of poetry which he expected to be published in New York in his absence. I had new things to say about his reading epics on the voyage and other matters, but not much new about the volume of poems except some attention to the evidence of its length.
            What’s at stake with the denial of The Isle of the Cross and Poems is a true sense of the trajectory of Melville’s career, in which The Isle of the Cross comes between Pierre and the first stories and in which the lectures precede Poems and Battle-Pieces follows it. A responsible critic would have dismissed Baym’s efforts to keep something like Weaver’s unsupported theories before new generations of critics. A responsible critic would have been open to ways that Pierre as a psychological novel grows out of the examinations of the workings of the mind in Moby-Dick. Such a critic might have looked at ways in which Melville’s suggestions to Hawthorne about the Agatha Hatch material might seem to continue or develop beyond his techniques in Pierre. Instead of writing about “Bartleby” as if it followed Pierre, such a critic would use all the available evidence to speculate responsibly about how Melville might have grown, in style, psychology, and intellect, in the process of brooding about the Agatha Hatch story in the fall of 1852 and of writing the lost The Isle of the Cross from mid-December 1852 till late May 1853. Similarly, a responsible critic would take account of how Melville might have grown as a poet in the process of writing the lost Poems from 1857 or 1858 until May 1860. No one can think responsibly about Battle-Pieces (1866), John Marr (1888), and Timoleon (1891), or about the 1876 Clarel, without taking into account the book of poetry which Melville was not able to print in 1860.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My American Riddle

I've set to thinking of the great age of Pete Seeger and others who lived very long lives. I thought of my GGGG Grandfather Robert Knox who applied for his Revolutionary War pension at the age of 90, and got it. Then I thought of my mother, Martha Izora Costner Parker, who died at 92.

How many native-born Americans can say what I can say (leaving aside my Choctaw and Cherokee ancestors)?

None of my white ancestors immigrated to the United States, and neither of my parents was born in one of the states in the United States.

Maunderings after learning of the death of Pete Seeger

He was born in time to have spoken childish words to someone who as a very small child had heard Thomas Jefferson's voice. He was born in time to have talked to people whose parents had talked to Benjamin Franklin. He spanned a huge hunk of our history and helped shape many decades of that history.

The Greatest Nineteenth-Century American? Pete Seeger.

Can you think of another man who acted on his principles decade after decade on so many of the big issues of the times?
I can't think of anyone from the 19th century who lasted so long and was so important so long. No politican, for sure. Maybe Mark Twain?
Anyone from the 18th century? Benjamin Franklin?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mississippi cousins take note: J. L. Balentine, Grandson of Gene Costner

J. L. Balentine (1930-2008). A first cousin of mine. Mary Thelma Costner was his mother, Hartsel Balentine his father. His first name was John but he was known as J. L.

James Hime & Sons

My Texas friend James Hime, businessman and novelist, with his actor son Josh (left hand showing) and his physicist son Travis, in Manhattan recently.

Peter Higgs, Lee Patterson, and (Again) the Contempt of Elizabeth Scala for the Slow Old Guys Who Thought Before they Published

This is Elizabeth Scala on Lee Patterson's TEMPORAL
OF CHAUCER 33.1 (2011) 356-360.

So "Patterson belongs to a generation of critics
who did not have to write a monograph for tenure."
Perhaps, just perhaps, his failure to publish a book
a year or two after his first employment gave him
time to think earnestly and even with relentless
skepticism about received truths and to weigh such "truths"
in the light of his patient, dry-as-dust discoveries.
Perhaps his not having to write a monograph for
tenure meant that his first book had a chance of
revolutionizing Chaucer scholarship. Was it worth
waiting for?

Professor Scala, hear Higgs:
What’s the Point of Academic Publishing?  In December 2013, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs made a startling announcement. “Today I wouldn't get an academic job,” he told The Guardian. “It's as simple as that. I don't think I would be regarded as productive enough.” Higgs noted that quantity, not quality, is the metric by which success in the sciences in measured. Unlike in 1964, when he was hired, scientists are now pressured to churn out as many papers as possible in order to retain their jobs. Had he not been nominated for the Nobel, Higgs says, he would have been fired. His scientific discovery was made possible by his era’s relatively lax publishing norms, which left him time to think, dream, and discover.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Can't reply to J.R. on Twitter--maybe this will go through

 J.R. if you see this will you try me again?

From: J. R. (via Twitter) []
Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2014 1:07 AM
To: Hershel Parker
Subject: J. R. (@ADFDSDFKSLDKFLS) mentioned you on Twitter!

@Argulus I don't wish to be presumptuous, but I've a story for you--a sad one, though not quite tragic--about reading "Billy Budd" at Duke. - @ADFDSDFKSLDKFLS
Hershel Parker,
You were mentioned in a Tweet!
Hershel Parker

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A friendly offer to the leader of the failed recall effort in Morro Bay

The Old Guard was so upset at being voted out of office that they launched a recall effort in which those from the Dark Side accused the new mayor of rejecting their plan to built a water treatment plant right close to the beach.  The Coastal Commission had made it clear all along that the Old Guard was not going to get away with putting the plant where a good high tide would flood it. The San Luis Obispo TRIBUNE, which had foolishly supported the Old Guard in the election before last, finally made it clear how misguided the recall people were. The Recallers called their group "Morro Bay Forward" apparently not realizing that the true name was the one I used in today's letter. What a bunch. Such spleen! What ugly letters they wrote to all the papers! Even the TRIBUNE had to point out false statements in their advertising, and a Coastal Commissioner protested against having her position misrepresented.

So they would not prescribe new glasses: have to have cataract surgeries first!

I felt better at once. Better to have surgeries than learn that vision would get dimmer and dimmer. Now, what does that do to the shoulder therapy scheduled to start this week? And can you run right after cataract surgery?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Michael Gaynor on Richard Brodhead remembered
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