Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Image by me.

Kind readers of this blog will know that I am fond of a good hoax--or perhaps they have felt the tickle of suspicion once or twice? or maybe they live in the kind comfort of the doubtless. Anyway. I stumbled on a New Yorker essay on Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's almanac and--as befitting a book you can't likely talk about without mentioning two authors meant to have written it--it seems that the book was one in the long line of literary hoaxes perpetuated by Franklin. Maybe the literary hoax appeals so much to men like Franklin because, when you find yourself agreeable to people, able to hold yourself in conversation, able to spin a story with the ease other people breathe, you get great pleasure in lying. But when you lie to real-life people, you get hurt, and you hurt others. In print, about things people barely care about, it's a different matter. Twain was much the same way. When he and his friends got together he'd always gush and talk about how much they lied. Good old Twain. Good old Franklin. Those scoundrels in all their disseminating dishonest glory represent the best of this country: the lively, entrepreneurial, brash sort. We need more of them.

Found through Fimoculous.

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