Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Sentimental Frauds

  • Simon Stern

Abstract

The 2006 class action against James Frey, concerning his fabrications in A Million Little Pieces, was the first suit of its kind in the United States. There is nothing new about false memoirs, so what can explain the lawsuit? When the book was promoted on “Oprah's Book Club,” viewers were invited to respond emotionally, and saw their responses as a form of testimony. Those responses produced a sense of betrayal and inauthenticity when Frey's falsehoods were revealed. This view finds support in the eighteenth‐century sentimental novel, which similarly linked readers' reactions to the author's emotional authenticity. Fraud was an ongoing concern for sentimental novelists, some of whom used elaborate editorial to ploys to disavow responsibility for the text, while others populated their novels with fraudulent characters, intended as foils for the protagonist. An investigation of these novels helps to reveal the implications of the Frey case for future claims of literary fraud.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, rev. ed. London: Verso.
Annese, Susanna. 2004. Mediated Identity in the Parasocial Interaction of TV. Identity 4 (4): 371–88.
Anonymous. 1710. A Treatise of Frauds, Covins, and Collusions. London: Nutt.
Baines, Paul. 1999. The House of Forgery in Eighteenth‐Century Britain. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate.
Barker‐Benfield, G. J. 1992. The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth‐Century Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bastone, William A. 2006. A Million Little Lies: Exposing James Frey's Fiction Addiction, Jan. 8. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0104061jamesfrey1.html (accessed October 1, 2010).
Bender, John. 1997. Enlightenment Fiction and the Scientific Hypothesis. Representations 60:123.
Benedict, Barbara. 1994. Framing Feeling: Sentiment and Style in English Prose Fiction, 1745–1800. New York: AMS.
Bente, Gary, and Feist, Ansgar. 2000. Affect‐Talk and Its Kin. In Media Entertainment: The Psychology of Its Appeal, ed. Zillman, Dolf and Vorderer, Peter, 113–34. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Bertelsen, Lance. 1997. Committed by Justice Fielding: Judicial and Journalistic Representations in the Bow Street Magistrate's Office January 3–November 24, 1752. Eighteenth-Century Studies 30 (4): 337–63.
Boswell, James. 1980 1791. The Life of Johnson. Ed. Chapman, R. W. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Braudy, Leo. 1973. The Form of the Sentimental Novel. Novel: A Forum on Fiction 7 (1): 513.
Brewer, David A. 2005. The Afterlife of Character, 1725–1826. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Brewer, William F., and Lichtenstein, Edward H. 1982. Stories Are to Entertain: A Structural‐Affect Theory of Stories. Journal of Pragmatics 6 (5–6): 473–86.
Brodey, Inger Sigrun. 2008. Ruined by Design: Shaping Novels and Gardens in the Culture of Sensibility. New York: Routledge.
Budd, Adam. 2008. Aesthetic Sensibility and the Contours of Sympathy through Hume's Insertions to the Treatise . In Theory and Practice in the Eighteenth Century: Writing between Literature and Philosophy, ed. Dick, Alexander and Lupton, Christina, 109–22. London: Pickering and Chatto.
Carroll, John, ed. 1964. Selected Letters of Samuel Richardson. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Chatterton, Thomas. 1777. Poems, Supposed to Have Been Written at Bristol, by Thomas Rowley, and Others, in the Fifteenth Century. Ed. Tyrwhitt, Thomas. London: Payne.
Coady, C. A. J. 1992. Testimony: A Philosophical Study. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Csengei, Ildiko. 2008. “I Will Not Weep”: Reading through the Tears of Henry Mackenzie's Man of Feeling . Modern Language Review 103 (4): 952–68.
Daily Advertiser. 1777. [Untitled obituary for Reverend Charles Eccles]. Daily Advertiser (London), August 21, 1.
Darnton, Robert. 1985. Readers Respond to Rousseau: The Fabrication of Romantic Sensitivity. In The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History, 215–56. New York: Random House.
Davis, Kimberly Chabot. 2004. Oprah's Book Club and the Politics of Cross‐Racial Empathy. International Journal of Cultural Studies 7 (4): 399419.
Drescher, Horst W., ed. 1967. Henry Mackenzie: Letters to Elizabeth Rose of Kilravock. Edinburgh, Scotland: Oliver and Boyd.
Drescher, Horst W., ed. 1989. Literature and Literati: The Literary Correspondence and Notebooks of Henry Mackenzie, vol. 1: Letters 1766–1827. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Peter Lang.
Eakin, Paul John. 2008. Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Eccles, Charles Steuart. 1776. The Necessity of Humiliation. Bath: Printed for the Author, and sold by R. Cruttwell.
Fielding, Sarah. 1998 1744. The Adventures of David Simple: Containing an Account of His Travels Through the Cities of London and Westminster, in the Search of a Real Friend. Ed. Sabor, Peter. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
Fielding, Sarah. 1998 1753. The Adventures of David Simple, Volume the Last, in which his History is Concluded. Ed. Sabor, Peter. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
Fielding, Sarah. 2004 1760. The History of Ophelia. Ed. Sabor, Peter. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview.
Frey, James. 2003. A Million Little Pieces. New York: Doubleday.
Gallagher, Catherine. 1994. Nobody's Story: The Vanishing Acts of Woman Writers in the Marketplace, 1760–1820. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Gallagher, Catherine. 2006. The Rise of Fictionality. In The Novel, Volume 1: History, Geography, and Culture, ed. Moretti, Franco, 336353. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser. 1777. [Untitled obituary for Reverend Charles Eccles]. Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (London), August 30, 3, col. 1.
General Evening Post. 1777. [Untitled obituary for Reverend Charles Eccles]. General Evening Post (London), August 19, 4, col. 2.
Gildon, Charles. 1719. The Life and Strange Suprizing Adventures of Mr. D—De F–. London: Roberts.
Goring, Paul. 2005. Polite Reading: Sentimental Fiction and the Performance of Response. In The Rhetoric of Sensibility in Eighteenth‐Century Culture, 142–81. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Graham, Peter J. 1997. What Is Testimony? Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187): 227–32.
Greeves, J. R. H. 1953. Notes on the Family of Grierson of Dublin. Irish Genealogist 2 (10): 303–37.
Groom, Nick. 1996. Forgery or Plagiarism? Unravelling Chatterton's Rowley. Angelaki 1 (2): 4154.
Groom, Nick. 2002. The Forger's Shadow. London: Picador.
Hamilton, Geoff. 2007. Mixing Memory and Desire: James Frey, Wound Culture, and the “Essential America Soul. Journal of American Culture 30 (3): 324–33.
Harker, Jaime. 2008. Oprah, James Frey, and the Problems of the Literary. In The Oprah Effect: Critical Essays on Oprah's Book Club, ed. Farr, Cecilia Konchar and Harker, Jaime, 321–34. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
Hawkins, William. 1716. A Treatise of the Pleas of the Crown. London: Nutt.
Henige, David. 2009. Authorship Renounced: The “Found” Source in the Historical Record. Journal of Scholarly Publishing 41 (1): 3155.
Hyman, Stacey A. 2007. The James Frey Scandal: A Million Frivolous Lawsuits. Seton Hall Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law 17 (1): 211–45.
Lahav, Alexandra. 2008. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Dead Souls, Phantom Clients, and the Modern Class Action. Studies in Law, Politics and Society 40: 153–84.
Lockwood, Tom. 1989. Eliza Haywood in 1749: Dalinda and the Pamphlet on the Pretender. Notes & Queries (new series) 36 (4): 475–77.
Lofton, Kathryn. 2008. Public Confessions: Oprah Winfrey's American Religious History. Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 18 (1): 5169.
London Chronicle. 1777. [Notice concerning The Man of Feeling]. London Chronicle, November 4, 447.
Lunt, Peter, and Stenner, Paul. 2005. The Jerry Springer Show as an Emotional Public Sphere. Media, Culture & Society 27 (1): 5981.
Lynch, Jack. 2008. Deception and Detection in Eighteenth‐Century England. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Mackenzie, Henry. 1771. The Man of Feeling. Dublin: Printed for W. Sleater, D. Chamberlaine, J. Hoey, jun.[,] J. Williams, J. Potts, and R. Moncrieffe.
Mackenzie, Henry, ed. 1805. Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland, Appointed to Inquire into the Nature and Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian. Edinburgh, Scotland: Constable.
Mackenzie, Henry. 1987 1771. The Man of Feeling. Ed. Vickers, Brian. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Macpherson, James. 1760. Fragments of Ancient Poetry, Collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and Translated from the Galic or Erse Language. Edinburgh, Scotland: Hamilton and Balfour.
Marshall, David. 1986. The Figure of Theater: Shaftesbury, Defoe, Adam Smith, and George Eliot. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
McGowen, Randall. 2002. Making the “Bloody Code”? Forgery Legislation in Eighteenth‐Century England. In Law, Crime & English Society, 1660–1800, ed. Landau, Norma, 117–38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Meyler, William. 1777a. Verses Composed on Viewing the Turfless Grave of the Rev. Mr. Eccles. London Evening Post, September 16, 2.
Meyler, William. 1777b. Verses Composed on Viewing the Turfless Grave of the Rev. Mr. Eccles. Public Advertiser (London), September 18, 1.
Miller, Nancy K. 2007. The Entangled Self: Genre Bondage in the Age of Memoir. PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association 122 (2): 537–48.
Monthly Review. 1771. [Review of The Man of Feeling]. Monthly Review 44:418.
Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser. 1777. To the Printer of the Morning Chronicle. Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, October 3, 4.
Mullan, John. 1988. Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Mullan, John. 1996. Sentimental Novels. In The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth‐Century Novel, ed. Richetti, John, 236–54. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nabi, Robin L., and Hendriks, Alexandra. 2003. The Persuasive Effect of Host and Audience Reaction Shots in Television Talk Shows. Journal of Communication 53 (3): 527–43.
Novak, Maximillian E. 2003. Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Paige, Nicholas. 2008. Rousseau's Readers Revisited: The Aesthetics of La Nouvelle Héloïse . Eighteenth-Century Studies 42 (1): 131–54.
Plomer, H. R. 1968 1932. A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers Who Were at Work in England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1726 to 1775. London: Bibliographical Society.
Pollard, M. 1989. Dublin's Trade in Books, 1550–1800. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Public Advertiser (London). 1777. [Notice concerning The Man of Feeling]. Public Advertiser (London), November 4, 2.
Raven, James. 2003. The Anonymous Novel in Britain and Ireland, 1750–1830. In The Faces of Anonymity: Anonymous and Pseudonymous Publication from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century, ed. Griffin, R. J., 141–66. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Russett, Margaret. 2006. Fictions and Fakes: Forging Romantic Authenticity, 1760–1845. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
St. James's Chronicle or the British Evening Post (London). 1777. [Notice concerning The Man of Feeling]. St. James's Chronicle or the British Evening Post (London), November 4, 2.
Schramm, Jan‐Melissa. 2009. Testimony, Witnessing. In Law and the Humanities: An Introduction, ed. Sarat, Austin, Anderson, Matthew D., and Frank, Cathrine O., 478–95. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Scott, Sir Walter. 1930. The Private Letter‐Books of Sir Walter Scott. Ed. Partington, Wilfred. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Scott, Sir Walter. 1972 1890. The Journal of Sir Walter Scott. Ed. Anderson, W. E. K. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Segal, David. 2007. Nothing but the Truth: The Author of a Hoax Insists Her Creation Is No Fraud. Washington Post, June 21, C1.
Smith, Adam. 2002 1759. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Ed. Haakonssen, Knud. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Starr, G. A. 1977. “Only a Boy”: Notes on Sentimental Novels. Genre 10 (4): 501–27.
Stephens, Alexander. 1803. Public Characters of 1802–1803. London: Richard Phillips.
Sterne, Laurence. 2003 1768. A Sentimental Journey and Other Writings. Ed. Parnell, Tim and Jack, Ian. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stewart, Susan. 1994. Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Terry, Richard. 2004. David Simple and the Fallacy of Friendship. Studies in English Literature 44 (3): 525–44.
Thompson, Harold W. 1931. A Scottish Man of Feeling. London: Oxford University Press.
Todd, Janet. 1986. Sensibility: An Introduction. London: Methuen.
Tovares, Alla V. 2006. Public Medium, Private Talk: Gossip about a TV Show as “Quotidian Hermeneutics.” Text & Talk 26 (4–5): 463–91.
Trepte, Sabine. 2005. Daily Talk as Self‐Realization: An Empirical Study on Participation in Daily Talk Shows. Media Psychology 7 (2): 165–89.
Voskuil, Lynne M. 2004. Acting Naturally: Victorian Theatricality and Authenticity. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.
Welsh, Alexander. 1992. Strong Representations: Narrative and Circumstantial Evidence in England. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Wigmore, John Henry. 1904. A Treatise on the System of Evidence in Trials at Common Law. Vol. 3. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co.
Womersley, David, ed. 2000. Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling . In A Companion to Literature from Milton to Blake, 387–92. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wright, R. S. 1873. The Law of Criminal Conspiracies and Agreements. London: Butterworths.
Zimmerman, Everett. 1996. The Boundaries of Fiction: History and the Eighteenth‐Century British Novel. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Anonymous, 6 Mod. 105, 87 Eng. Rep. 863 (Q.B. 1703).
Antidote Int'l Films, Inc. v. Bloomsbury Pub., PLC, 467 F. Supp. 2d 39 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).
Floyd v. Doubleday, C.A. No. 1:06‐693 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).
Giles v. Frey, C.A. No. 1:06‐58 (S.D. Ohio 2006).
Hauenstein v. Frey, C.A. No. 2:06‐1030 (C.D. Cal. 2006).
In re “A Million Little Pieces” Litigation, 435 F. Supp. 2d 1336 (Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, 2006) (consolidation order).
R. v. Jones, 1 Salk. 379, 91 Eng. Rep. 330 (Q.B. 1703).
R. v. Jones, 2 Ld. Raym. 1013, 92 Eng. Rep. 174 (Q.B. 1703).
McCall Co. v. Wright, 117 N.Y.S. 775 (App. Div. 1909).
Marolda v. Frey, C.A. No. 1:06‐1167 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).
More v. Frey, C.A. No. 1:06‐934 (N.D. Ill. 2006).
Paglinawan v. Frey, C.A. No. 2:06‐99 (W.D. Wash. 2006).
Rubenstein v. Frey, C.A. No. 2:06‐1029 (C.D. Cal. 2006).
Snow v. Doubleday, C.A. No. 1:06‐669 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).
Strack v. Frey, C.A. No. 1:06‐933 (N.D. Ill. 2006).
Teague v. Baker, 35 F.3d 978 (4th Cir. 1994).
Thompson v. Trevanion, Holt 286, 90 Eng. Rep. 1057 (K.B. 1693).
Vedral v. Frey, C.A. No. 1:06‐935 (N.D. Ill., filed Feb. 2, 2006).
Winter v. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 938 F.2d 1033, 1037 (9th Cir. 1991).

Sentimental Frauds

  • Simon Stern

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed