Her Book in Limbo, Naomi Wolf Fights BackHistorians in the News
tags: books, historians, Naomi Wolf
“It’s a book against censorship,” she said recently in an interview in her West Village apartment. “I’m not saying I’m being censored, but it’s frustrating we’re talking about a book people can’t read in the United States of America.”
So far, the fracas over “Outrages,” which examines the criminalization of homosexuality in Victorian England, as seen through the lens of the life of the closeted poet and literary critic John Addington Symonds, might seem to be yet another juicy, publicity-generating controversy for an author whose career had been full of them.
But the uncertainty over the fate of “Outrages” has raised the stakes. And so far, Ms. Wolf, who earned a doctorate in English literature from Oxford in 2015, has been fighting back with a strategy that mixes the genteel traditions of scholarly peer review with crisis management.
On the one hand, she acknowledges her book contains two “confirmed errors in interpretation” relating to a Victorian legal term, affecting several pages, which she says will be corrected in future editions, in keeping with standard publishing practice. And she has repeatedly expressed gratitude to Matthew Sweet, the BBC interviewer who pointed out the mistakes in a radio interview in May, in a moment that quickly went viral.
But at the same time, in interviews and in emails, she has repeatedly stated that Mr. Sweet and others who have challenged her have themselves made serious mistakes. She even briefly demanded that a critical review of “Outrages” be removed from a scholarly website.
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