Talk:Paul de Man

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from 2004[edit]

Lots to be said. Not a lot of information on the kind of thing most people want to know about from de Man: the wartime journalism. I reckon a reading of "The Resistance to Theory" would be a reasonable start. Buffyg 13:21, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Contents which put De Man in the controversy has no source. I added "Advocate/defender of De Man claim that" to make it bit more NPOV. Darida's deconstruction of anti semetic writing is a well known fact. So I don't think it is NPOV to say Darida did not try to excuse DeMan's anti semetism. Vapour

I'd say this is obscurantism that results in POV pushing and unsupportable inference. There is evidence. That's it, whoever said it or put it to whatever use is a distinct problem, and you end up pushing far more POV by insisting that someone pointing out this or that bit of evidence is doing to so to advocate or defend this or that cause. If I say that de Man helped out Jews shortly after penning an antisemitic literary review, which is backed up by evidence, am really I trying to advocate some cause that might be called his? If I have to include all of that here, I'd have to disagree that that implies that I am defending him, as that would be the responsible task of anyone trying to report on these matters. Conversely, if someone were to exclude such information in characterising de Man, that would not necessarily mean that such a person were "criticising" or "attacking" him, but it certainly would mean try to provide an account that would be partial in some sense that would need to be accounted for. I'd say there's a lot more POV being pushed when someone removes a reasonable characterisation of "Like the Sound of the Sea Deep Within a Shell" and claims that its form could just as easily be employed to declare Mein Kampf rehabilitated, which is plainly untrue and an exercise in the very thing to which one claims to object. If it's POV to say that someone said what they said, wikipedia's a doomed enterprise. The fact that others do not accept certain facts that are not matters of interpretation does not mean that Derrida did not say this and did not cease to restate that point throughout his career, as the matter was raised with some regularity. That being said, it's reasonable to say that articles appeared in The Nation and The National Review which made contrary insistences, even if one can readily ascertain that truth is manifestly and immediately given absurdly relativist treatment in advancing those articles. To that end I'm more than happy to make the revisions and cite the sources. Perhaps Professor Wiener might be willing to make an opportunity of this article to issue some long-overdue corrections. Buffyg 01:21, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Wartime writing[edit]

As wikipedia's verifiability policy states: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth." The point is that verifiability is not simply that someone said such and such but whether the claims that one reproduces are themselves verifiable and are untrue by implication. To be excluded from the article, one needn't evaluate the second claim, as the first suffices. Credulous treatment of sources is not NPOV, particularly where the result is to introduce claims and a tone that strongly favours a particular point of view. In particular: "Notable among those essays was Derrida's attempt to deconstruct de Man's anti-semitic writing to suggest an alternative interpretation that was not anti-semitic; that effort was derided by many critics, some suggesting that it showed how "Mein Kampf" could be rehabilitated with the same approach." As well as: "His defenders replied that secrecy was not the same as deceit." I see a lot of claims that I view as POV pushing because the attribution is imprecise and makes characterisations about the motives of the sources that are not themselves given to verifiability. I have added tags accordingly and brought the matter to the attention of the editor who made these changes. I'm away from home for another two weeks and therefore can't pull sources myself, but it is the responsibility of those who have introduced these edits to show that their claims can be verified and to present them in a genuinely neutral voice. Buffyg 03:55, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

Not that I disagree with the tagging, but I think the main problem with this passage is not bias but citation of sources on either side of the argument. There werew only a few unattributed statements of opinion that seemed to me to run afoul of WP:NPOV, and so I have removed them and, provisionally, removed the NPOV tag. Also, it would be nice if possible to cite more authoritative sources than the Wall Street Journal (hardly a literary-critical or European-history review). -- Rbellin|Talk 04:14, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
You lost me on NPOV in revising the claim to state that Derrida was "suggesting an alternative interpretation that was not anti-semitic", which goes so far beyond verifiability that's counterfactual POV pushing. As this requires Derrida to say the opposite of what he wrote, I don't see how the edit can pull the claim out of a nosedive. How does one can maintain NPOV by attributing any claim that offers any indication of nuance to "defenders" and the like? Buffyg 04:43, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
If you object to that sentence, remove it. I was trying to reword the existing sentence away from simple self-contradiction (it claimed that Derrida interpreted anti-Semitic writing as not anti-Semitic), not claiming that it adequately summarized Derrida's piece in Memoires. And in this case, since opinions do legitimately vary (even some critics who are big fans of his "nuance" elsewhere see no room for moral ambiguity in de Man's wartime writing), the best way to proceed is not to make any absolute claims but to find specific citations to replace the (currently unacceptably weasel-worded, I agree) statements about "opponents" and "defenders." Think of the weasel words as mere placeholders until specific citations can be found, and if that doesn't happen after a few months, we can revisit the issue of whether they should remain in the article. -- Rbellin|Talk 05:37, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough on needing to weed out the weaseling. I would not for a moment dispute that a number of people who had associated themselves with Derrida and de Man decided to contribute to the Responses volume with comments critical of de Manian deconstruction and thereafter dissociate themselves with deconstruction tout court. It would probably be useful to note that a great deal of attention has focused on de Man's reading of Rousseau's Confessions in "The Purloined Ribbon", collected as "Confession (Excuses)" in Allegories of Reading, as well as his comments on autobiographical writing in "Autobiography as De-Facement" (forgive me, but the cites are mostly from memory). Derrida had some sharper words to say about de Manian deconstruction much later (in life.after.theory, again, if memory serves) and indicated that he felt it necessary to defer elaboration and articulation of certain differences with de Man regarding deconstruction until much later, as to do so in 1986 would have been "disastrous" (again from memory) to the reception of de Man's work, which Derrida nevertheless continued to see as valuable. Buffyg 13:51, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
Why is it that the only statements tagged by BuffyG as requiring citations concern criticism of de Man's antisemitic writings -- nothing else in the essay? That itself seems to be a kind of violation of NPOV. I'm willing to add the citations-- virtually all will be either to the "Responses" volume, the Lehman book, or the special issue of Critical Inquiry -- all of which are cited in "Secondary Works" bibliography in the article, and well-known to those who followed the controversy--including, presumably, BuffyG.Jonwiener 06:38, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

Please note that most of the requests for citation of specific claims were not inserted by me, so it's not a matter of "statements tagged by BuffyG".

In any case, the more controversial the claims, the higher the burden for verification and attribution. The section on academic work offers summaries of clearly identified essays, so verification and attribution is less of a problem in such cases because they refer to a more precisely specified work rather than to a list of sources. That's not nearly the same problem for citation, attribution, or verification as is presented by a claim like "His defenders replied that secrecy was not the same as deceit" (as I've asked you on your talk page: which defenders? replying to whom? what exactly is the charge of deceit?). Verification is far more difficult when it isn't clear what sources you are using or how you are weighting them. To be frank, having consulted those sources extensively (I've read much of that material several times over the course of more than a decade), I don't believe many of the claims you've added can in fact be verified or need to be evaluated far more rigourously as to their credibility. Buffyg 22:30, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

So the Wikipedia entry for Paul de Man was cleansed of any references to his wartime writing. His students and defenders apparently don't want readers to find out about that. They could have corrected errors or added alternative interpretations or provided missing citations--but they prefer to conceal this part of de Man's life and work. Let's see if my new effort is deleted like the old one was. Jonwiener 19:55, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

degenerés et décadents, parce que enjuivés is translated as degenerate and decadent because they are [enjewished]. What do the brackets around enjewished mean? enjewished is a very uncommon word, most Google hits refer to de Man. But enjuivé is part of the standard vocabulary of antisemites, the exact equivalent of Nazi German verjudet. Wouldn't jewified be a better translation?-- (talk) 17:49, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

Did de Man "endorse" a territorial solution?[edit]

The "Territorial Solution to the Jewish Question" was the Nazi scheme to deport the European Jews to some colony, like Madagascar -- not in the hopes of their thriving or even surviving, but a step shy of genocide per se.

I've edited the article to remove the false claim that de Man "endorsed" such a program in "The Jews in Contemporary Literature." What he actually said was this:

Furthermore, one sees that a solution of the Jewish problem that would aim at the creation of a Jewish colony isolated from Europe would not entail, for the literary life of the west, deplorable consequences.

(Martin McQuillan transl., in McQuillan, Paul de Man (Routledge 2001).

The actual statement is obnoxious enough without exaggerating it into an "endorsement" when it's no such thing. Depending on the syntax, one could even argue that de Man concedes "deplorable consequences" for the Jews themselves, though that is a stretch. ----Andersonblog 18:32, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

How do you pronounce his last name?[edit]

Specifically, do you drop the 'n'? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Critic9328 (talkcontribs) 01:39, 7 April 2008 (UTC) No. Rhymes with "the man". (talk) 21:11, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

You mean "the man" in American English? I think it is more like the German "man," or maybe like the last name "Mann" (as in Thomas Mann). (talk) 17:35, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
Here's the official answer:

Paul de Man, it should be noted, always pronounced the name Man as the Flemish do, which uses a flat syllable similar to the English word man.

— Evelyn Barish, The Double Life of Paul de Man, p. 7

Choor monster (talk) 13:20, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Geoffrey Hartman[edit]

There was an interesting article by Geoffrey Hartman on de Man at the time, I think in the New Yorker, somewhat similar to Derrida's defense. It might be appropriate to mention it here. Tkuvho (talk) 18:51, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

Tone and Tendentiousness[edit]

The overall tone of this article is harsh, at moments either ironical or using a literary style that evokes that of a tabloid (e.g. the comment about money vanishing like de Man himself). De Man's status as a public figure rests primarily upon a decades of scholarship that had a major impact on North American and European literay studies and philosophy. Following his death his stature lead to the discovery of wartime writings complicit with WW2 occupations to provoke a scandal, and in turn a re-investigation of his work and history. This is an important point -- the stature generated the extreme interest in his wartime writings, and while his influence in literary studies and philosophy abided, a number of re-evaluations were mapped unto his work, which sometimes altered the interpretation of his scholarship, but more often created a set of addendums that exists alongside (or independent of) his schorlarship proper. However, this article focuses largely on the scandals and controversies (much of it based on decades-old allegations, e.g. accusations of theft at Bard). For example, his private life is reduced to a series of excerpts concerning would-be scandals. The larger currents of his life and scholarship are overshadowed almost entirely by these scandals, which today have proven less significant or influential than the scholarship they commented upon. Although the scandals have a place in this article, there should be more balance.

Likewise, an entire section on "criminal history" is bracketed out, singling out, for example, issues surrounding his marriage and re-marriage. If we made a section on criminal history for every individual who somehow violated marriage laws (e.g. adultery, sodomy, bigamy) and/or had financial judgments against them, Wikipedia would look very different.

In its current form, the entry reads like article from a tabloid. Obviously, scandal generates attention and Wikipedia is sometimes at the intersections of science and public interest -- hence, more attention to scandals, etc. Even so, the current composition of this article concentrates on scandals -- many of which remain contentious and debated, not at all settled as "criminal" or otherwise -- while neglecting the substance of the subject's life, research, etc. A substantial revision is in order. Betweenfloors (talk) 20:09, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Followup. Most of the above concerns have since been addressed in one way or another through revisions. Betweenfloors (talk) 17:21, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
Followup on the followup: Someone anonymously made some new and outrageous revisions. For example, the current conclusion reading "Now it is the rabbis who are tossing the SS into the crematoria" is really bizarre. It undermine serious criticism and discussion. I'm going to revert them for the time being. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Betweenfloors (talkcontribs) 22:25, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

General Comments[edit]

I find the entry not so much "tabloid" but very dense in its composition and could benefit from edits for clarity and continuity. Since his death, de Man's life and scholarship have come under renewed evaluation. Revelations about his personal life, heretofore either dismissed or obscured, have now come to light. These prove to be factual data, outside the category of mere "gossip" requiring inclusion in any comprehensive biography of a noteworthy figure. The private man, however egregious or laudable, and the public figure, however maligned or honored need to be taken together as representing a total life, neither the personal nor public indivisible from the other. Presentation of such a complex personality as de Man's, requires crafting a skillful balance of information. Even when accomplished, there will invariably be individuals who will find fault with the result. We can only continue to give it our best efforts! Betempte (talk) 00:17, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

I hear what you are saying. There were a few really provocative comments in earlier versions that I have since removed (e.g. one about de Man "adding bigamy to his resumé") that had unsuitable literary flourishes designed more to provoke than inform. Likewise for the section formerly entitled "Criminal History," which included discussion bigamy, etc. That's what I was referring to when I referenced tabloids. If consistent across Wikipedia, we might have to assign individuals like Bill Clinton, Francois Mitterand, and JFK a section on "Criminal History" that treated their adulteries, participation in sodomy, etc. In any case, the current version, including a number of Betempte's additions, give a more factual and neutral account. There's no doubt that his personal life and his posthumaous scandal merit attention and scrutiny; even his greatest defenders agree on that point. But even in the current version, it seems to me that they often are given disproportionate weight. For example, why are there two sections -- one concerning posthumaous controversy, another concerning antisemetic writings (the latter of which are discussed in a section on his earlier life). Really, the controvery and allegedly antisemetic writings are the same thing and should be treated in tandem. This bringing them up repeatedly, expounding upon the juicy comments of critics while giving shorter schrift to other takes or, for that matter, his scholarship, seems unsuitable for the forum and individual. Moreover, the current quote that ends the article is especially provocative, relying on an uncited quote from a journalist in reference to a non-published book. This strategy of singling out the most scandalous items and bringing them to the fore -- or in this case, making them the conclusion of the article -- is what gives the overall article a biased or tilted feels at times. Again, the current article is a vast improvement over a couple weeks ago -- but I think there's a lot more that could be done to give an image of the "total life" to which BeTempte refers. betweenfloors (talk) 13:26, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
I see some additional revisions have been made to give the entry a more informative and neutral feel (e.g. crediting the quote at the end of the text to a columnist, rather than just dropping it into the body of the text). As mentioned above, I'm inclined to merge the Wartime Writings and the Posthumuous Controversy sections, since they are one theme; only the latter revealed the former, and the former drove the latter. But since it also seems like there are a number of individuals invested in a variety of possible approaches to this article, I thought I would state this proposal here, again, before moving ahed. As I wrote above, I think breaking it up into two pieces throws the general article off-balance, causing an over-elaboration and repetitive approach that disorts what BeTempte termed the "total life." Are there objections or counter-suggestions to this revision? betweenfloors (talk) 12:31, 25October 2013 (UTC)
I have tried to insert details about dates, with references and to give a more encyclopedic tone. Personally, I find deconstruction very interesting but don't feel equipped to explain it at this point. Does deconstruction it lead to political quietism? I cannot say, and even if it does, is quietism so bad? Is "not taking a stand" always the equivalent of "depraved indifference"? If that is so, the majority of people in all times would be guilty. In any case, deconstruction has certainly been a tremendously influential theory, with impressive explanatory power, not only in literary studies but in the world at large. It should not be quickly dismissed, no matter how it originated.
Very helpful. The political quietism charge is probably unfair. One can take a look at Derrida's recently published lectures on the death penalty, or his writings on apartheid in South Africa, and see that he found deconstruction leading towards a defense of justice, and so on. Even the early Derrida, for example OF GRAMMATOLOGY, was incisively aimed at criticizing ethnocentricism (and by implication, aspects of colonial dominance) with the history of metaphysics. So no, I don't think there's any necessarily quietist inclination in deconstruction--at least, not if we go on the claims made in the name of the movement. More generally, there are some tendentious tones re-entering the entry, where accusations and insinuations are sometimes substituted for loosely neutral exposition. A little reworking -- that takes account of the recent, sometimes disturbing claims of Barish, while not giving in to mere polemic or gossip--is probably in order.
betweenfloors (talk) 11 March 2014 (UTC)
I see de Man has having been a brilliant, ambitious opportunist. From a professional standpoint, perhaps the most damning things he did were the misleading responses he gave to Harvard in 1954 when the anonymous denunciation was received , plus the transcript forgery (if that is true). Were these acts related to a belief in himself as a superman to whom conventional morality was not applicable? On the other hand, to what extent is a person supposed to incriminate him or herself? If de Man had a criminal conviction, he almost certainly would not have qualified for entry into the country, let alone U.S citizenship. For him it was a matter of life and death. What is really incredible to me is that Harvard could have been so innocent about de Man's Nazi uncle, the puppet Prime Minister of Belgium, who had been sentenced to death for treason and had just killed himself. Especially since universities, including Harvard, were actively examining other people's political pasts at this time as a basis for hiring and firing them. No doubt we will hear more about this in a month when the new biography is officially published. Mballen (talk) 21:07, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
I've tried to clean up the page a bit more, again. I think some of the comments raised above point to the underlying difficulties. [User:Mballen|Mballen] writes that the most damning things he did were certain "misleading" responses along with an alleged forgery. Based on this he asks whether de Man thought he was a "superman to whom conventional morality was not applicable." This seems like a far leap for two accusations that are unsubstantiated in some of the most basic ways. He suggests the de Man biography would clarify the situation but it basically kicked up more dirt and confusion, in part through lots of innuendo paired with shoddy documentation. All the while, we're getting more and more dirty allegations about immoral behavior. The basic misdeed that raises serious questions -- the antisemitic and wartime writings -- is getting totally obscured. I've tried focusing the article around some key controversies and shedding all the gossipy innuendo. The latter distracts from the interest and facts of de Man's career and it also obscures, as I see it, the most significant controversy over the wartime writings and antisemitism. betweenfloors (talk) 4 Sept 2014 (UTC)


I think that the most significant repercussion of the de Man affair was the consequent fall in prestige suffered by Deconstruction, which then tended to be replaced by the so-called "New Historicism" and various feminist and other identity forms of academic criticism. (Not that these were necessarily an improvement, at least in making the profession attractive to outsiders and undergraduates). I don't think this was due only to de Man's purported anti-Semitism (or even the manifest a-morality of his financial and private life). Deconstructionism aroused a lot of hostility. James Sosnoski's Modern Skeletons in Postmodern Closets: A Cultural Studies Alternative (Knowledge : Disciplinarity and Beyond). 1995, notes how deconstruction was in some ways a but continuation of the New Criticism, in that it purported to be uniquely "scientific" and therefore the only possible valid "professional" academic approach to literary criticism. Sosnoski analyzes at some length the derogatory and even contemptuous language of the deconstructionist toward those who were outside their charmed circle, who were routinely stigmatized and sneered at as passé -- deluded amateurs/or philologists. Sosnoski identifies this phenomenon as a continuation of the authoritarian and totalizing attitude of the New Critics, who likewise acted as though they were supermen at the apex of intellectual evolution and were similarly scornful of their predecessors. Very interesting, if someone wants to pursue it. I will say this, de Man was indeed a close reader with an impressive knowledge of his subject. I don't believe this, at any rate, was fraudulent (so far). (talk) 21:29, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Unproven accusations?[edit]

We can't really omit accusations as "unproven" if they appear in a RS. We can only say that they are contested. Peter Brooks, de Man's colleague at Yale, is inclined to dismiss the accusations -- but was he at Harvard? Harvard professor Louis Menand, on the other hand accepts Barish's research. He says that de Man was told to leave the country by INS officers and that he did so for two years, taking his family with him. His wife and children returned the conventional way, but de Man snuck back on a freighter. Barish also recounts that on multiple occasions de Man would tell stories about having "lost" his passport, usually after losing his luggage after being evicted from hotels for non-payment bills. Menand implies that the traumas of de Man's youth caused him to go off the rails and that he regained his "equilibrium" after being granted tenure.

Menand, an English professor however, takes de Man's literary criticism seriously. Whatever his shortcomings, he de Man was very intelligent and apparently a very inspiring teacher. Here is Menand's version of de Man's adventures as a Harvard grad student:

I.N.S. agents show up again, and tell de Man that he can voluntarily leave the country or be deported. At almost the same time, Harvard’s Society of Fellows, where de Man is a Junior Fellow, receives a mysterious letter recounting some of his Belgian activities. De Man explains that he is being persecuted because he is the son of the “controversial” Henri de Man, and his advisers buy the story.

De Man goes back to Europe voluntarily, with his family, but he manages to return to the United States two years later, by freighter. He is without passport or visa, but enters the country unquestioned when agents in New York are distracted by other passengers. He nearly fails his Ph.D. examinations, and never completes one of the chapters of his dissertation, but he is awarded the degree. Through it all, he has been writing criticism. An article called “The Intentional Structure of the Romantic Image” is published in France, in 1960, and attracts interest. That fall, he is hired at Cornell. And here, regrettably, Barish ends her messy but fascinating book.

Why is it so hard for some people to believe that a sometimes distinguished professors could also be not quite what they seemed? I think this was the case for more than one professor who was a refugee from Europe. Mircea Eliade (who was in the Arrow Cross) and Bruno Bettleheim spring to mind. Americans in those days had an inferiority complex and tended to be "snowed" by seemingly sophisticated European intellectuals, and there was also a labor shortage (incredible as that may now seem). (talk) 22:37, 19 March 2014 (UTC) (edit) (talk) 22:50, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Indeed. This article has been gretly bowdlerized by fanboys trying to conceal a whole lot of bad stuff.Pokey5945 (talk) 01:35, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
It is remarkably like something out of a Henry James novel, in which innocent American puritans are completely unprepared for the seemingly bottomless depths of corruption that have long been par-for-the-course in Europe, and indeed the rest of the world. Barish suggests that the kind of verbal bamboozlement de Man specialized in was a game that his whole family enjoyed playing and they laughed when they heard of it. They even had a name for it: "kicking up sand"!. One thing Barash suggests was that the reason de Man was so desperate to marry Patricia Kelly (or anyone probably), even bigamously, was to avoid deportation, since he was in this country on an expired visitor's visa. He never did get around to becoming a citizen though. (talk) 15:30, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
Robert Alter's review of Barish in The New Republic, entitled "Paul de Man Was a Total Fraud" is now up, and he finds Barish entirely credible, though he also identifies a few errors, some of which have to do with her unidiomatic uses of English. Alter took courses with de Man and knew many of the people Barish writes about, including de Man's mentors at Harvard, so he has considerable authority. He also says that de Man misquoted and misinterpreted the authors he dealt with in his critical analysis, distorting their meaning to suit his theories. (talk) 19:32, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Alter notes that Brian Vickers and Ortwin de Graef, as early as 1993, had noted the frequency of de Man's textual misrepresentations, which de Graef judged could only have been deliberate:

The critical consensus documenting de Man’s misrepresentation of the authors he interpreted grows steadily. In a collection edited by Luc Herman, Kris Humbeek and Geert Lernout, (Dis)continuities: Essays on Paul de Man (Amsterdam: “Post-modern Studies” 2 [1989]), Ortwin de Graef shows that at a crucial point in his essay on Rousseau’s Confessions de Man quoted Rousseau in French but inserted a "ne" in square brackets, thus adding a negation that is nowhere to be found in Rousseau, the resulting translation giving "the exact opposite of Rousseau’s phrase". This "illegitimate" inversion cannot be accidental, de Graef judges (p. 61), adding other instances “of ‘dubious translation’ or ‘twisted paraphrase’" in De Man, and warning readers “to trace de Man’s quotes to their supposed sources" (p. 71 n. 18). In the same volume Philip Buyck shows how de Man both mistranslated and misrepresented Nietzsche’s work on rhetoric, by which he made "Nietzsche say exactly the opposite of what he actually says" (p. 156). I have given some more details of these misrepresentations in “De Man’s distortions of Nietzsche: Rhetoric against itself”, in Josef Kopperschmidt and Helmut Schanze (eds.), Nietzsche: oder die Sprache ist Rhetoric (Munich: Fink, forthcoming). --- Brian Vickers, Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), p, 490. (talk)

Explanation of multiple issues tag, and steps taken to date[edit]

The tag above the lede is self-explanatory, when viewed alongside the two added section tags, and the queries added in-line. Many of the citations currently in place appear to have been written sandbox style, by an editor or editor, to remind themselves of source (rather than being complete enough to allow another to followup with the material via the source).

In many cases, there is no way to tell what parts of what paragraphs are taken from a later indicated source—even if there is an indicated source, and if that source contains a fully specified citation (with page numbers, publisher, date of web access, etc.).

I have marked up the lede and first section to make clear how unverifiable the existing text is; in addition to noting the inline queries, ask yourself as you review, from which reference was this non-common-knowledge factual statement drawn? In most cases, no answer is possible. One simply cannot be expected to do forensic referencing on such a text. To do so would be intellectually sloppy guesswork; the original editors must return to finish the job they began, or the whole of the blocks of unreferenced or partially referenced text are largely a wash.

Note, the "unreferenced" tag was chosen for the first section, instead of the "add references", because of the references appearing, one uses a book review (tertiary source) to provide critical biographic material, and the others are lacking critical information (such as page numbers), preventing the sources from being used to verify content. (I am willing to put in significant work to clean-up another's text, but not when, in toto, the time it would take makes the job more daunting than starting from scratch.)

Besides trying unsuccessfully to verify the information in the lede and opening section, I re-formatted the multiple appearances of Peter Brooks 2014 citation so that they would appear as a single line in the reflist, and I removed red text (broken Wiki links).

Bottom line, this article is "not ready for prime time" until significant work is done to clearly provide the actual sources of the vast troves of currently unverifiable text. Le Prof (talk) 01:21, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

I find this explanation very confusing and unhelpful. I don't think editor Le Prof understands that the article is the result of many editors with different viewpoints and levels of experience with wikipedia editing protocol, not of a single student writing a first draft. It seems to me that if an editor sincerely wanted to improve the article he or she should take one or two examples of what he /she considers errors and provide a clear example to other editors of how to correct those particular issues, rather than engaging in lengthy and self-serving ranting. (talk) 14:02, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Also, some of the edits seem trivial and pointless tinkering. What is the justification, for example, for changing all the words "attempt" to "try"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:16, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
And inserting needless and pedantic "which" everywhere. Sorry, forgot to sign above. (talk) 15:09, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Secondary source list minor edits[edit]

I did some reformatting of these secondary sources, to further complete them (adding some, but not all publishers, publisher locations, ISBNs, and URLs), and make them consistent with one another and with other appearances of the same citations elsewhere in the article.

At the same time, I made the editorial choice to move the list to the more modern given name-surname ordering (because the list was not presented alphabetically, so there is no need to reorder the first, and only the first name). At the same time, the year of publication was moved to the alternate position of second in order (because that was the basis of the list order I found appearing). Finally, the "inverse chronological order" was simply chosen because that was the specific ordering the list was in already (or nearly so).

The list of primary sources should be made similar, or this list should be reordered in regular chronological order (and the section heading changed). Le Prof. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:29, 3 May 2014 (UTC)