A Literary Hoax as Weird as the Dickens


When Dickens Met Dostoevsky,” a recent article in the Times Literary Supplement, starts out at the highest echelons of writerdom: Michiko Kakutani discusses an encounter between Charles Dickens and Fyodor Dostoevsky, in which Dickens describes creating his stories’ villains from his own worst impulses.

But with each new development in the story, we sink a little lower. Did the two authors ever even meet? Where did the anecdote originate? What were the motives of the scholar who first wrote about it?

Eventually, we end up in the sordid depths of an obscure corner of academia, which, despite its irrelevance to the world at large, manages to be creepy as hell. And strangely fixated on nipples.

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →