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Fantasy and dissimulation in the memoirs of Getzel Zelikovits (1855–1926)

Mairs, R. ORCID: (2023) Fantasy and dissimulation in the memoirs of Getzel Zelikovits (1855–1926). Life Writing. ISSN 1751-2964

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2226834


The Yiddish-language memoirs of the journalist Getzel Zelikovits (1855–1926), published in New York in 1919–1920, present a version of his life that deviates considerably from the version one might glean from other contemporary testimony, such as newspaper articles and institutional records. This paper examines how Zelikovits constructed a counterfactual narrative in which he seeks to present his readership with his life as it should have been. As well as Zelikovits’s sense of injustice at how he had been treated by European and American academia, and by the British and French establishments, another reason for his deviation from the truth is that he was guilty of a number of serious offences: academic fraud, false accusation of murder, and likely sexual assault. I conclude by exploring what is at stake for a biographer, from an ethical and scholarly standpoint, in exposing Zelikovits’s misdeeds and untruths.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Classics
ID Code:112578
Uncontrolled Keywords:Literature and Literary Theory
Publisher:Informa UK Limited

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