In a recent issue of the Times Literary Supplement, Marion Mainwaring has taken to task R W. B. Lewis for errors of fact and interpretation in composing his Edith Wharton: A Biography (1975). These errors could have been avoided, she avers, if only Lewis had properly attended to the information that she—as his research assistant in Paris—had provided him back in the 1970s. Charging him with remarkable carelessness, she complains that “it is the nature, number, scale, and cascade-effect of Lewis’s [errors] that are extraordinary.”

It would be tedious to rehearse Lewis’s alleged mistakes here: readers may consult her claims in “The Shock of Non-Recognition” (TLS, December 16-22, pp. 1394, 1405). But briefly they come down to a few mistranslations, some misspelled or misunderstood names, a few wrong addresses and dates, and an alleged misinterpretation...

 

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