Literary Provocateur
Monday, March 19, 2012 at 02:10PM
Ed Pettit in Dickheads

Being a literary provocateur sometimes bothers others.  But that's the nature of what I'm doing.  I want to provoke reactions from readers (mainly to rethink their notions of literary history).  But sometimes, a colleague gets really pissed at you and holds a grudge.  I received this email today from a scholar with whom I had a little argument a few years ago (2009).  I haven't heard from him since then.  Certainly haven't tried to contact him about anything.  So it was odd today to find this email in my inbox:

I was going to buy my wife a membership in the Philadelphia branch of the Dickens Fellowship . . . until I learned that, your year to impersonate a Poe scholar having run out, you decided to recapitalize on the bicentennial of Dickens' birth. The thought of encountering you at their meetings there made my blood run cold.
Also noted your "literary literacy quiz", which makes me weep both for the questions asked in view of the Internet public and the answers likely given by those who take it. I feel certain there will be a host of honored students following in your wake.
But I think you missed a real opportunity with your 'reading Dickens through the year", which seems to have been modelled after the blog in the book and movie versions of Julie and Julia. I like to think of your variant as "Dickhead and Dickens", and suggest from what I've seen this title is both appropos and catchy. Give it a try.
Don't bother to reply; I blocked your address after your check bounced.
I think this guy is still holding a grudge. 
Article originally appeared on Edward G Pettit (
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