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Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:41 am
From a piece in the The NY Times by Kevin Gray titled Modern Gothic 2001 (quoting Lynda Waggoner):
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ That fall, Michaely and Liliane were planning a buying spree in Europe. Three weeks before the trip, the Kaufmanns spent the weekend at Fallingwater. On Sept. 7, 1952, Liliane failed to come down to dinner. Kaufmann, worried that she was not answering repeated knocks at her door, ordered the servants to force it open. He found Liliane on the bed, having overdosed on sleeping pills.
''He put her in the car,'' Waggoner says, ''and instead of taking her to a local hospital, because he didn't trust the local doctors, they drove her to Pittsburgh,'' to Mercy Hospital, two and half hours away. Edgar's suspicions may have cost Liliane her life.
What happened, in fact, is not entirely clear. Both Kaufmanns were drinkers, and Kaufmann, suffering from severe back pain caused by several bad falls from his horse, had a large stock of painkillers. Edgar Jr. told friends that his mother had killed herself.
''It was a very troubling thing for him,'' Waggoner says, ''because he and his mother were very close.'' As it turns out, Edgar Jr. may have been wrong about the suicide. A coroner ruled the death accidental. Still, the suicide rumor persists. Even Wright seemed to believe this. In a Sept. 18, 1952, letter, he wrote to Edgar Jr.: ''Your mother needs no sympathy. She shines brighter now that she no longer suffers.'' Ã¢â‚¬Å“
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:27 am
Our member Forest supplies the death certificate:
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:32 am
Is that Edgar jr's signature, or Sr. ? I think the former. Was he resident in New York, 1952 ?
Good to know how the Kaufmanns referred to the location of Fallingwater: Mill Run, Fayette Co, Penna.
Wonder what 871.0 refers to. "Other significant conditions" ? See addition (?) of numerals, left margin.
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:48 am
Thanks for posting the certificate, Stephen. I concur that it looks like Junior's signature. He was working at MOMA from 1950 to 1955, so I would assume that he resided in New York during that time.
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:19 pm
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:32 pm
was a neighbor. Wonder if he ever took her to see his weekend place, or if he knew her at all. She was a friend of Larson and Bridges, who lived in Sturges.
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:14 pm
"The Campanile," 450 E 52nd St, NYC -- the bookend structure, center:
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:24 pm
Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:35 am
None of this proves or disproves the Lincoln question, but it does call into question the scholarship, or at the very least, the fact checking behind revelatory statements made in biographies. Or am I painting with too broad a brush? Does every biographer have to check every fact, find every legal document for every birth, marriage, commission, and death?
Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:12 am
Does every biographer have to check every fact, find every legal document for every birth, marriage, commission, and death?
No, I don't think they need to check everything; they just need to include notes as to where they got their information. If Gill listed where he got this "Lincoln" business, we wouldn't be in our current predicament. Even if it was just a note that said it was 'a family rumor related to him by X'. It's infuriating that some scholars don't do it more as it really isn't difficult.
Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:26 am
No, because reviewers and readers will do the checking if the biographer doesn't.
Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:10 am
Tsk tsk. Leave it to someone else ? Maybe the reader is expected to check all the facts, after paying for the book ?
The whole point of publishing is that reliable information be made available to whoever needs it. Journalism is the backbone of a culture; books are
written to memorialize facts. Of what use is any of it if not reliable ?
We've repeatedly remarked here on the problem of misinformation issuing from well-meaning docents at Wright properties. Is the visitor meant to go
home and "look it up" for himself ? Once a claim is out there, it tends to become entrenched. Don't let it happen !
The material included in a published paper or longer-form work is footnoted so that the writer's sources are available to the reader. But the facts put
forward are expected to be reliable. Yes, the author is expected to check every fact -- either personally, or by means of hired researchers -- before
committing it to paper.
We are beset with "fake news." Let's not accept that as the new norm . . .
Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:18 am
...because reviewers and readers will do the checking if the biographer doesn't.
That doesn't seem to be happening. Reviewers don't seem to check, and a large number of readers believe most anything they read in print or online. The Lincoln middle name phenomenon may be a case of this; the Liliane Kaufmann specific cause of death most certainly is.
In the case of Mrs. Kaufmann, we have about as much proof as we are going to get short of opening a tomb in Western Pennsylvania and examining the deceased's remains for evidence of trauma. Gill stated something that dramatically differed from previous accounts. Did Gill read any previously published material written about the Kaufmanns, in particular the circumstances of Liliane's death? It was verifiable by looking up the death certificate, as it is a public document. No one reviewing Gill's writings did that. Either Gill made up his account, or he heard it and repeated it without checking. If he heard it as a "hidden secret", he gave no indication that it differed from previous accounts, nor did he cite his source for this detail.
I suppose this is nothing new. I'm learning to believe that what is written as history may not always be accurate. It is most troubling however to witness accurate accounts being pushed aside by false ones that are perceived to be more "juicy" to the reader, or that serve some personal purpose for the writer.
Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:28 am
It certainly is. Unfortunately, that's human nature. Journalism is the bulwark wisely erected by the culture to defend against that tendency; it is the scientific
method applied to any and every subject that arises. From the earliest days of our own nation, the government actively supported and aided the journalistic
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/busin ... bsidy.html
Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:29 pm
"The Fellowship," published by Judith Regan, who also gave the world "If I Did It" by O.J. Simpson, makes "Many Masks" look tame by comparison. Co-authors Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman spent years interviewing as many former apprentices as they could find to compile a book that Regan regarded as too tame, so they amped it up to the level of tabloid trash. It isn't necessarily an innocent lack of attention to accuracy that causes the problem, but wilful greed on the part of author and publisher in cahoots. Both Jim DeLong and John Geiger cooperated extensively with the authors, convinced that the end product would be a well-balanced correction of the many Fables of Taliesin. Jim didn't care much about the outcome, but John was incensed that he had been duped. When John and I showed up for a book signing (not yet having read the tome), the authors looked nervous, justifiably. I innocently asked some questions about Lincoln, which Friedland deflected, and sweated. I think they were ultimately embarrassed.