The story of a literary hoax; or, how Elizabeth Pepys came to be quoted on "turds that do fly"

A wonderful post by Whitney Anne Trettien, who examines the reception of a feminist spoof of Pepys famous diary, in order to explore the strange human desire to trust those who reveal shameful private failures. (That is, unless her whole blog is just another learned example of a literary spoof, and I’m being too trusting by quoting from her work without double-checking.)

This is fascinating. Not the
literary hoax part, so much — because I seriously doubt any historians
of Restoration England were deceived — but how the “fake” text travels
through the authentic, the “real” history (the source texts), to prove
a nonexistent past, and how that process reflects exactly what Dale
Spender is doing in the fictional Diary. In some ways, this is the same
trajectory that all texts take, feeding off a factual “before” to
create an admittedly fictionalized “now” (skewed, biased — we all
admit what we do when we write, today), which then becomes the
historical fodder for the future.

Actually, this is exactly what
Samuel’s Diary does, too. Perhaps best known for its entries on the
Great Fire of London or the plague — indeed, often used as a primary
source text for these events — the Diary recounts some of the most
important events in British history; yet it falls far short of the
documentary evidence historians might wish to have. In fact [pun
intended, har har], the Diary ironically exposes how mediated the past
is precisely because we
expect a journal to be so unimpeachably “authentic,” so far beyond the
frustrating arguments over history as narrative, or the frames of
interpretation that muddy up a text.