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Thursday, February 7, 2008 3:55 pm
Made-Up Facts, Erotic and Otherwise
Posted by: Keir Graff

In the Times Literary Supplement (“Erotic qualifications“), Robert Irwin offers a somewhat cheeky (ahem) review of Gaetan Brulotte and John Phillips’ Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature (Routledge):

I also finished my reading of these two volumes with the feeling that sex was a lot less fun than I had hitherto supposed.

That’s funny, I had much the same feeling after finishing Chuck Palahniuk’s new novel. (Rimshot!) Although there is a clear difference between the two works:

In general, the entries tilt towards the intellectual, the magical realist, the transgressive and the gay. In the article on the novelist Jack Fritscher, Fritscher is quoted: "The gay erotic writer is to gay non-erotic writers what Ginger Rogers was to Fred Astaire: gay erotic literature does everything gay literature does, but it does it backwards and in high heels adding to its Olympic degree of difficulty and pleasure". This is a striking but puzzling metaphor. What sort of shoes is the non-gay erotic writer wearing and for what sort of dance?

But the real reason I’m writing about Irwin’s review of the EEL (as we in the “biz” refer to it) is a throwaway line in the first paragraph:

(It is common practice in reference books to insert a bogus entry or two in order to establish copyright in any future plagiarism case in court.)

Really? Is this true? Such a practice would seem more likely to cause the publishers of a reference book to end up in court themselves than to help them drag others there.

Can any reference librarians out there weigh in on this?

Comments

comments

3 Responses to “Made-Up Facts, Erotic and Otherwise”
  1. Mary Ellen Says:

    I’ve heard of this practice, but I have no documentation, and so, being a reference person, I have no comment.

  2. frumpiefox Says:

    I have heard of such a thing in mapmaking:

    http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_165.html

  3. Keir Says:

    Interesting link–thanks! (I like Cecil’s notion that errors of fact can now be claimed as “copyright traps.”)


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