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Former "rfc|reli|bio|rfcid=42E1847", now finished.
Sources say Curt Leviant was born in 1932, but in a very recent interview, Leviant mentions he was born 69 years ago, which implies a birth year of c. 1944. How, exactly, do we handle this? I have double checked the sources. (EJ below refers to Encyclopedia Judaica 2nd ed, 2007.)
I am aware that one single wrong source may have been quoted by everyone afterwards. I have also checked for Library of Congress information in his published books, and in the five that I checked, there was no LOC or there was, but he does not list a birth year. Choor monster (talk) 17:34, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
- I think you have to go with the source year, and not the quote in this case. The "69 years ago" part could be correct, but it also could have been a mis-speak, translation error, figure of speech, or even Leviant having a bit of fun with his age. This is why primary sources aren't desirable, even when they happen to be the subject themselves. Anyway, whatever the case, I'd suggest leaving the source year in the article, and then leaving an open section of the talk page (perhaps the one below) indicating that there is some question over his birth year, and hopefully another source will eventually surface to confirm the correct year.
- The only other thing you could do, really, is to write the uncertainty into the article. I can't really see a way you'd do this without being clunky or overly long in the lead, but a descent wordsmith could probably pull it off. Something like "Leviant, (born in 1932 according one of his major texts, but the age given in a later interview puts his birth-year closer to 1944), is a retired..." etc, etc. Ditch ∝ 13:28, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
- Thanks very much. I was also thinking that the Italian might naturally refer to his "artistic birth". I also had the idea that this was an old interview, deep-sixed 12 years ago and suddenly relevant, but no, internal comments to his publications guarantee 2012 is the earliest time. So I get the impression the interview should be in the External links section, and a brief carefully worded comment indicating, yes, we know it says 69 years ago, but no, we're not going to use that. As it is, after making the request I find further references to his earliest publications, and 1944 is completely not believable.
His PhD was awarded in 1966, as verified on ProQuest. The thesis itself was published in 1969 as King Artur, his translation and commentary on the 1279 Hebrew version of the legend. EJ (for whom he worked as an assistant editor, as they themselves say) gives his birth year as 1932. EJ also lists 1964 as the year he was editor for Masterpieces of Hebrew Literature (published 1969, but based on an earlier version used at Rutgers for teaching).
So either nobody noticed he was a wunderkind, or he wasn't one. I suspect the latter. Referring to his birth "69 years ago" could easily be an English/Italian language confusion (sessanta vs settanta), with Leviant trying to speak in Italian and not realizing he said the wrong number. I will add the Sette link to "Se l'amore fa dimenticare persino l'aleph bet" with a summary of the question raised. However, please do not delete references like Zohn's book, which lists 1932. Moreover, Leviant has acknowledged his parents were fluent in Russian (see, for example, his introduction to Sholom Aleichem's selected stories that he translated).
Note that we are not allowed to engage in "original research", and trying to decide who is correct comes close. At the moment, the sources are in conflict, but more say 1932, and as I mentioned above, it is more credible. Choor monster (talk) 16:57, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Further reference: The Writers Directory, 31st edition, St. James Press (part of Gale, Cengage Learning) 2013, gives the following for their entry on Leviant: Ämerican/Austrian (born Austria), b. 1932? ... Rutgers University, professor of Hebrew and Yiddish literature 1960–, retired, now professor emeritus of Hebrew literature.
1959 and 1960 publications
In early 1960 Leviant published a story, "The Machine Gun Crawl" in The Quarterly Review of Literature, vol X, no. 3, p195. On page 194 the provided author's bio says "CURT LEVIANT, with several published short stories behind him and now at work on a novel, has recently published a translation of a Sholom Aleichem volume, Stories and Satires."
I don't know how accurate the self-provided bio is—for one thing, the mentioned translation was finally published in 1999 by the "Sholom Aleichem Family"—but that it's the same Curt Leviant, and that it's 1960, is indisputable.
- I located a 1959 copy of Stories and Satires, published by Thomas Yoseloff, copyrighted by "Sagamore Press and the children of Sholom Aleichem". Age 15 or 27?
So his age at publication was either 16 or 28.
Leviant's 9/18/1966 NYT review of Agnon states that "MR. LEVIANT is a member of the Hebraic Studies faculty at Rutgers". Again, this means that the 1944 date of birth is at the extreme outer edge of plausibility. Sure, 22-year-olds do make faculty, but when they do so, they always end up on lists of academic wunderkinds. Choor monster (talk) 20:32, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
1957 Master's thesis
I included a link to a page that references Leviant's 1957 master's thesis. Was he 13 or 25?