Literature

The Ethics of Literary Hoaxes

EVERY TIME a literary hoax is exposed—it is a frequent occurrence in publishing nowadays— there will be those who say there is nothing really wrong with faking it in a literary sense. They might argue that it is some sort of a victimless aesthetic crime that reveals shortcomings in our cultural institutions. That view has a certain appeal, but I will argue that it is wrong. Ethically, if not morally, there is much that is objectionable about telling literary lies and no shortage of examples that show that, like any breach of trust, it is injurious to culture and bad…

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