A LOYAL READER who prefers to remain anonymous writes:
Since he himself has successfully attained his doctorate, I’ve long wished that Dr. Boli would set forth his rules for graduate study in literature.
Dr. Boli is always happy to oblige a reader. Although Dr. Boli earned his own doctorates by unconventional and probably more honest means, he has observed that there is one rule that will assure the student of success and even acclaim in graduate study of literature:
Any text, studied long enough and in sufficient depth, becomes pseudonymous.
Did Dickens really write A Tale of Two Cities? Superficially, the work seems to bear many of the marks of his authorship. But is it not striking that nowhere else in Dickens’ considerable oeuvre do we find a novel set during the French Revolution? Nor did Dickens ever begin any of his undoubted novels with a sentence that included the word best and the word worst in such near proximity; in fact, we can only describe the juxtaposition as entirely uncharacteristic, as a statistical analysis of Dickens’ vocabulary will doubtless prove, after we have spent a full academic year putting it together. Henceforth the attribution of the work to Dickens must be regarded as a pious fiction, by which a much-beloved work of unknown authorship was attributed to the great man by his most loyal followers many years into the post-Dickensian age. As to the true authorship of the work, that is a matter, at present, of mere speculation; although it is suggestive that Thomas Love Peacock, in a remarkable echo of our unknown author, began one of his unpublished letters with the word “It.” Until further work is done, we must refer to the author of A Tale of Two Cities as “Pseudo-Dickens.”
You see how easy it is to apply this rule to any arbitrary work of literature. Go forth now and earn your well-deserved doctorate by the traditional means, if you must. As an alternative, however, you may wish to keep the Boli Institute in mind.