Talk:The Human Stain

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This article has been mentioned by multiple media organizations:

Poor source and probably falsely attributed[edit]

"As Roth wrote in the novel, Silk chose 'to take the future into his own hands rather than to leave it to an unenlightened society to determine his fate'"[2] - Or so runs our text. Well, it is standard to attribute opinions and such uttered by characters to the character and not to the author. In the case of this book, our article starts out by saying that the book is written from the point of view of one character. So, it would seem, we could perhaps say, "As [Roth's character] Nathan Zuckerman says ..." Even more egregious is that the footnote (2a) takes us to a discussion in the of the work in the NYT which starts with "to take..." with an implicit indication (i.e., the quotation marks) that it comes from the book, but not indicating who (Zuckerman or Silk) beyond the earlier explanation that the story at large was Zuckerman's telling. If we're going to use a quotation from the book (to give us an idea of the subject), why not use it from the book? If we want to express Kakutani's (he's the author of the NYT article) view of Silk (or issues emanating from Silk's actions etc.), then we should say that's what we're doing. Kdammers (talk) 03:33, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

The "Background" section says "Human Stain" is "the third of Roth's postwar novels that take on large social themes." What war are we talking about here? In standard usage, "postwar" is understood to mean after World War Two -- in which case, ALL of his novels (large social theme, or not) are "postwar," given that Roth (born 1933) didn't begin publishing until the latter 1950s. (If there are living writers who published "prewar" novels, they're thin above the ground now.)Ken Kukec (talk) 15:36, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Anatole Broyard controversy[edit]

This section is pretty slippery. Nobody can be a greater expert on what inspired the author than the author. How could there possibly be a reliable source on the source of someone else's inspiration? Mindreading?

The writing in the opening sentence seems aimed to defend Wikipedia's role in the issue. "Connected" is a slippery word. It is then followed by "the same suggestion." What suggestion? No suggestion was made. The suggestion of a connection? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Beyondallmeaning (talkcontribs) 22:45, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

For the information of the editors working on this article, user Beyondallmeaning was a sockpuppet of an indefinitely blocked user and has also been indefinitely blocked [1]. They should not have made any edits at all so all their comments may be disregarded.Smeat75 (talk) 13:28, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
  • The issue arose from two Anonymous IP postings by an unverified person who claimed to be Roth's biographer. Link to first edit. Link to second edit. There was no identification or evaluation of the information and the changes were undone because an unverified and anonymous person claimed to be acting on Roth's behalf. Vandals and falsifiers do this as well. It is reasonable without confirmation of identity and the information that it be first undone. Please understand that at no point prior to the New Yorker article did Roth's biographer or Roth himself reach out to resolve this issue. Going through an intermediary as Roth did and having the changes undone is a bit upsetting. I understand his actions, but those upset over the situation should understand the other half of the story. ChrisGualtieri (talk) 04:53, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

I certainly am not going to make any changes, but the longer this nonsense goes on the less credible Wikipedia appears to those of us who actually care about validity. The attempts to defend keeping information in the article after the author has clearly said they're incorrect is just plain wrong. It's unfortunate that some editors have chosen this hill to die on in defense of a Wikipedia policy which was never intended to be so abused. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.145.0.53 (talk) 04:09, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

To an outside observer, the whole "Anatole Broyard controversy" seems highly ironic. Not even a secondary issue -- just there's no point at all whatsoever about the controversy. If Roth had known about Broyard, what would have been the point of denying it? If he had heard and forgotten, so what? Things happen, and everything that one can possibly write about is somewhat similar to at least one other thing, maybe two. So what? The worst case I could imagine is that Roth says he didn't know about Broyard (and, frankly, nobody has ever heard about Broyard, except for the people specialized in the fabulous history of Times litterary supplement), but actually, on a second thought, had heard something, and at first denied and then was a bit embarrassed to admit it? That would be such a big deal, OMG :) So I think this whole section is ridiculous and phony. Like it is ridiculous to accuse someone of racism because he used the word "spooks". As a quick fix, I would suggest deleting the epithet "well-known" associated with Broyard - whether or not a true characterization, it implies that Roth should have known the biography of this "well-known" person (which is not self-evident). Lebatsnok (talk) 22:31, 6 August 2016 (UTC)

Who Killed Wikipedia?[edit]

Pacific Standard: A hardened corps of volunteer editors is the only force protecting Wikipedia. They might also be killing it.

In a notorious case, Philip Roth petitioned Wikipedia to correct a description of the origin of his novel The Human Stain, only to be told by a Wikipedia administrator, “I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work, but we require secondary sources.”

New Yorker article: An Open Letter to Wikipedia BY PHILIP ROTH

Who was this administrator, and was he demoted? Letstrythisagain2 (talk) 10:21, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

I do not think they were. Factual correction: Roth did not himself communicate with the volunteer. The person the volunteer did communicate with was in a perfect position to produce a secondary source; he ultimately chose not to and Roth produced a usable primary source instead. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 10:42, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

Anatole Broyard controversy stuff is borderline insane. Most of it should be ripped out except for a small footnote explaining the tragic Wikipedia screw-up that forced the author of the book to publish a rebuttal elsewhere of a false assertion. The fact that the falsehood was attributable is irrelevant. Lots of pointless crazy stuff can be sourced. That does not mean the stuff merits inclusion. Anyway, that chunk of the article is an eyesore and anybody looking at the controversy itself is only going to get irritable that something clearly messed up has not been fixed for literally years. Whatever gatekeeper was tenaciously clinging to that debris, please stand down and let somebody fix the article. DeepNorth (talk) 06:24, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:The Human Stain/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Sagecandor (talk · contribs) 16:56, 11 June 2017 (UTC)


Review I shall do. Sagecandor (talk) 16:56, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Failed "good article" nomination[edit]

This article has failed its Good article nomination. This is how the article, as of June 12, 2017, compares against the six good article criteria:

1. Well written?: Unfortunately, this one is not good article quality right now. I see the nominator made one edit to the page in the last 500 edits. The lede is too short, failing WP:LEAD. The article uses way too many blockquotes and quotations, failing WP:COPYVIO. The synopsis section is too short, failing WP:PLOTSUMMARY.
2. Verifiable?: Multiple mixes of citation styles, should be standardized with WP:CIT or pick one style and go with it. Harvard style citing should be broken out into a notes section.
3. Broad in coverage?: Very short background section. No publication history info. Two sources in reception section when I'm sure there are many more sources.
4. Neutral point of view?: Difficult to assess due to other failures, above.
5. Stable?: Appears reasonably stable.
6. Images?: File:Human stain.jpg rationale is okay.


When these issues are addressed, the article can be renominated. If you feel that this review is in error, feel free to have it reassessed. Thank you for your work so far.— Sagecandor (talk) 18:54, 12 June 2017 (UTC)