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Does An Author’s Personal Life Influence You?

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

Some of the most commented on posts at 101 Books are the post in which I ask a simple question. We usually have a lot of great discussion in the comments.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d make this a weekly thing. From now on, every Monday I will feature the “Monday Question” on the blog. It will be a simple, straightforward book-related question for you guys. I’ll give you some of my initial thoughts and then turn the floor over to you in the comments. Hopefully, it will provoke some new thoughts and entertaining discussions.

So let’s get started.

The first Monday Question is simply this:

Does an author’s personal life influence how you view his work?

For example, Hemingway and Fitzgerald were raging, obnoxious (at times) alcoholics, and Jonathan Franzen is a pretentious turd who judges you for using social media. Do you care?

My honest answer to that is no. I feel like I’m able to separate my feelings toward the author from my feelings toward the book. It does get difficult, however, when a writer inserts their political views into a work. That’s something I’ve seen with John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath and Richard Wright in Native Son.

So what do you think—can you separate an author’s personal life and opinions from his art?

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)


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