Monday, February 9, 2009

Wikipedia - and Dufferin

I'm going to edit the page on Lord Dufferin soon - based not on MY research, but rather on my uncovering of the thorough and interesting work of researchers Paul Heuze and Melvin Harris. Here's what I've posted on the discussion page of the Dufferin article:

OK - here is the deal with Dufferin and the Ghost: First, the original source of the Dufferin Version of the story (in print) is from Camille Flammarion's book "Death and Its Mystery" (available in full at google books: Death and Its Mystery)written in 1922.

Flammarion was using a letter as the source of his story, and it turns out that the letter was effectively being used as a FOAF story. There was a real elevator accident at the Grand Hotel (where the story says the accident happened) but it happened fifteen years before Dufferin was in Paris. This was thoroughly proven in a book by a contemporary journalist, Paule Heuze in his book, "Do The Dead Live?" in 1923. Heuze confirmed that Dufferin did tell the story "as true" during his life, but only as a mechanism to improve the story - a known urban legend at the time. Heuze's book is not available online, but you can see the work I'm referring to here: Do The Dead Live

In 1984 BBC researcher Melvin Harris published his book "Investigating the Unexplained" which contained even further details on the Dufferin case, revealing correspondence with the Society for Psychical Reasearch and Lord Dufferin's grandaughter who explained further how Dufferin used to spice up the tale by pretending it was true. It also provided a print version of the story that predates Dufferin's version, proving that the story was an extant Urban Legend, not the recall of actual events. Investigating the Unexplained

So... If nobody has any objections, I'd like to update the entry on the Ghost by sourcing it directly to Flammarion's book, and then explaining how it was thoroughly disproved by linking to the Heuze and Harris works. This matters, I think, because since Flammarion's work, Paranormal literature has reprinted the tale "as true" with great frequency, but few realize that the tale was disproven a year after it appeared in print.--Trevor Sinclair

1 comment:

Doctor Atlantis said...

WTF is Trevor Sinclair? It's me. It's just a name I used a long time ago on Wikipedia and never got around to changing. Oh well.

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