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Another revenge poem and the story of my wife's nickname

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Confusing the facts in autobiographies
Carl Djerassi Scientist
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You see that imagine- I could have bet anyone. I would’ve given you odds 100 to one not only that it was a scene in Koestler, but where it was. I remember it was up here, and you see it was a complete figment of my imagination. A complete figment. And that I think when I really realised, I really realised what horrendous mistakes one can make in that context and be absolutely convinced. And my wife who is a professional biographer and told me this as biographer, which is totally different from autobiographers where you can check sources and crosscheck them, and she did this. In each case she wrote about people where most of the people, the, the actual people were dead. Anne Sexton, or Ted Hughes, or Sylvia Plath, and so on. But survivers are all still around and check and crosscheck and check their writings, and you find out what goes on there. And that’s- So that is a danger. This is now the caveat for the, for this entire interview and for everything that I’ve written. And if you’re really interested in me you’d have to read my fiction, or go to my plays, and that’s another topic that we’re not going to be discussing here.

Austrian-American Carl Djerassi (1923-2015) was best known for his work on the synthesis of the steroid cortisone and then of a progesterone derivative that was the basis of the first contraceptive pill. He wrote a number of books, plays and poems, in the process inventing a new genre, 'science-in-fiction', illustrated by the novel 'Cantor's Dilemma' which explores ethics in science.

Listeners: Tamara Tracz

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: imagination, mistakes, wife, biographer, fiction

Duration: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008