17920Re: [mythsoc] Re: which biography?
- Apr 4 12:13 AMIn a message dated 4/4/2007 1:46:27 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
Factual sloppiness is not limited to fast
workers. And whether Wilson worked quickly or slowly, it doesn't prove
that he was wrong on the bigger points.
I disagree somewhat about this. There are specific types of errors in
conclusions that someone who, like Wilson, isn't very well read in his subject and
has to acquire a lot of information in a short amount of time is more likely
to make. They tend to read strange meanings into innocent events or
writings because they don't stop to reread or reconsider how out of character such
misreadings are. For instance, the two boneheaded errors that were so bad
that Wilson (or more likely Wilson's publisher) dropped without comment from the
second edition of the book - the misinterpretation of the "Nazi, homosexual
pleasures" letter and the misunderstanding of when Douglas Gresham saw his
mother and Lewis in bed - are typical of fast-reading errors.
People who are very familiar with the work or life of their subject also
make errors, but they are different sorts of errors. It's not just that they
tend to treat the work and life of their subject too kindly, although that
often happens. It's also that they are so familiar with the contours of the
subjects work and life that they fail to notice the internal contradictions in
them. I think that they also have more trouble placing their subject in the
larger context of his time.
Wilson also makes errors because he wants to fit Lewis into the slots that
he already had established in his mind before he began his research. This
partly accounts for the weird Freudian readings of Lewis that Wilson does. I'm
not just complaining that his readings made Lewis look bad. A careful
psychological reading of Lewis, with some actual consulting of psychological texts,
might or might not look more favorablely on Lewis, but it certainly wouldn't
find it necessary to fit him in some narrow psychological category.
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