Death Recorded Live—and at the Bookstore

Back in June, Scott reported on the embarrassment on live TV of feminist celebrity author Naomi Wolf (“Death Recorded Live“), in which it was revealed that her forthcoming book Outrages, which alleged that 19th century Britain executed homosexuals on a prodigious scale, was based on a misunderstanding of a legal term so simple that an undergraduate should have spotted it. I wrote separately at the same time that “I suspect the book will be canceled entirely, or at least pulped in its current form and rewritten for low-profile release next year.”

The book had already been published in Britain at the time of her TV takedown, but today Wolf’s American publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has canceled the American edition entirely.

The BBC reports:

The US publisher of a new book by Naomi Wolf has cancelled its release after accuracy concerns were raised. Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love details the persecution of homosexuality in Victorian Britain.

But during a BBC radio interview in May, it came to light that the author had misunderstood key 19th Century English legal terms within the book. Following the BBC radio interview, Wolf admitted there were “misinterpretations” in her book. . .

Wolf’s book was based on her D.Phil thesis at Oxford. One wonders how her egregious errors got past her Oxford supervisors, unless her celebrity status meant she got a free pass from serious attention from her committee and reviewers. One wonders also whether Oxford will review the matter.

Flashback—Here’s a bit more from my previous post on the matter:

A couple weeks back the Times reviewed Outrages, and the review begins thus (with my highlights):

Naomi Wolf’s long, ludicrous career has followed a simple formula. She audits herself for some speck of dissatisfaction, arrives at an epiphany — one that might contravene any number of natural laws — and then extrapolates a set of rules and recommendations for all women. Predictable controversy ensues; grouchy reviews and much attention. Over the years her batty claims have included that a woman’s brain can allow her to become pregnant if she so desires, even if she is using birth control; that women’s intellects and creativity are dependent on their sexual fulfillment and, specifically, the skillful ministrations of a “virile man”; and that writing a letter to a breech baby will induce it to turn right side up.

There’s more, if you want to go to the Wayback Machine for my original post and also Scott’s.