Eric Naiman, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, pens an account of the greatest literary detective story in years. I won’t spoil the story for you, because it really is a delightful tale of deception, and Naiman tells it wonderfully. But suffice it to say that academia is not as free from perfidy as some people might want to believe. And I hope that the sad, small villain at the center of the tale understands the mastery with which Naiman dissects his work and lays it bare across the pages the TLS.

A quote to whet your appetite for the mystery:

“Late in 2011, Michiko Kakutani opened her New York Times review of Claire Tomalin’s biography of Charles Dickens with “a remarkable account” she had found in its pages. In London for a few days in 1862, Fyodor Dostoevsky had dropped in on Dickens’s editorial offices and found the writer in an expansive mood. …

I have been teaching courses on Dostoevsky for over two decades, but I had never come across any mention of this encounter. Although Dostoevsky is known to have visited London for a week in 1862, neither his published letters nor any of the numerous biographies contain any hint of such a meeting. Dostoevsky would have been a virtual unknown to Dickens. It isn’t clear why Dickens would have opened up to his Russian colleague in this manner, and even if he had wanted to, in what language would the two men have conversed? (It could only have been French, which should lead one to wonder about the eloquence of a remembered remark filtered through two foreign tongues.) Moreover, Dostoevsky was a prickly, often rude interlocutor. He and Turgenev hated each other. He never even met Tolstoy. Would he have sought Dickens out? Would he then have been silent about the encounter for so many years, when it would have provided such wonderful fodder for his polemical journalism?”

And so the mystery is afoot.