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Little Lovecraft Lie

"Lane goes on to assert that "horror writer H. P. Lovecraft called [The Yellow Wallpaper] one of the great 'spectral tales' in American Literature," but her footnote for this quotation merely offers "thanks to Paul Buhl for providing this piece of information" (Dock 477)

"Gilman chooses to interpret the initials as a doctor's signature. When she reprints the letter she closes up the space between the initials M.D....She obscures the implication that the writer and the patient are related." (Dock 479)

"Not surprisingly, the story of this apt conclusion originates in Gilman's accounts. In three successive versions, the author fleshes out the details of the story's effect and heightens her sense of mission in writing it." (Dock 479)

I chose these quotes because it amazed me all the inconsistencies which critics have chosen to just take at face value throughout the years. Whether or not this essay is as reliable as it makes the others unreliable isn't really the point. What matters to me is that there is an excellent chance that much of what we read and use as sources in our writing could be wrong. Wrong in the sense that they didn't do their homework the way we would be expected to do ours.

Gilman, from this essay, seems to have had her own political agenda. It seems to me that her "fame" comes from the fiction which she created around "The Yellow Wallpaper." This essay definitly shows the dangers involved in criticism when concentrating on one particular field, such as author intent. Gilman's intent when writing "The Yellow Wallpaper" not only changed throughout the years, but there is a chance she altered circumstances to enhance her own agenda later.

What disturbs me is that critics, instead of taking the time to do indepth research, wrote whatever they came across that fit their own political agendas and then attached a presumed truth to it, the example of H.P. Lovecraft is perfect in showing this inept research. Every piece of "solid" information is from second or third hand sources. Who else was disturbed by this possibility?

Read what my classmates have to say.

Comments (3)

Greta Carroll:

Mara, I was disturbed by it too. Actually, I was quite disturbed by it. It actually kind of made me mad. The article itself didn’t make me mad, but the fact that there are some many people out their spreading misinformation. It makes me wonder if I should believe anything I read. As you mentioned though, it really does show how unstable author intent is. Authors really do mislead and lie about their intentions and their works. I think it’s disgusting that critics don’t do the appropriate research when they write their essays. They just perpetuate the cycle of misinformation. Gilman makes an exaggerated statement, a critic takes her comments as a reliable source, then another critic bases something on that other critic that assumed something, and it just keeps going on and on. I’m really glad we read this article though; it will teach us to approach all historical “facts” and critical articles with a wary eye.

james lohr:

There are so many inconsitencies that while reading over one of my graded papers, i noticed a mark by Dr. Jerz. I used a quote from Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" which read "There comes John's sister." (533). When i checked the blurb Dr. Jerz left for me he remarked that it doesn't state that she is John's sister. I don't know if i lost points or not, but obviously the version Dr. Jerz is reading is different from our own.
As far as reading from only one perspective, i really noticed for the first time when writing against the feminist criticism for this story that i was doing the same exact thing they were, "she [the feminist critic] reads and rereads the text 'until she finds what she is looking for" (Dock 471). How else do we pull examples from a text to prove a point unless we put blinders on and run propogandist spin for our proof?

Good points.

No, James, you wouldn't lose points on a casebook just because I had an off-the-wall question. I left a comment on Jenna's blog explaining my question about the name "Jennie" (there's also a "Mary" and a "Jane," which may be a form of "Jennie," but wouldn't a nickname for "Jane" be "Janie"?)


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 19, 2009 2:26 PM.

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