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Who cares?

Hello Ö

Would the knowledge that your favourite author was, in real life, a confidence trickster, a philanderer, an alcoholic, a wife-or-husband-beater, a hypocrite, misogynist, liar, thief, or otherwise no good, make any difference to your enjoyment of or belief in his/her writing?

I for one have never enjoyed Hemingway after becoming aware of what a really objectionable human being he was.  And, diverging slightly, my opinion of Gandhi was deflated after becoming aware of how badly he treated his family.

On the other hand (as Tevye might have said) I donít care how parsimonious was Beethoven, or how much a hypochondriac Chopin.  Composers and artists can be as objectionable in life as they like, so long as I admire their legacy.

So what is it about writers?



Morally, writers are a mixed bag. The same as the rest of us. That someone excels as a writer is no reason to exect them also to be morally superior. It's best, I think, to trust the work, not the writer. When I admire someone's work, it doesn't really matter to me what they were like as people.

The only thing that would bother me is if an author turned out to be a murderer or something, and he/she was raking in royalites from their work, but that seems an unlikely senario as I am guessing if that ever happened the author in question would be dropped pretty sharpish by the publishing house.

But in my opinion nobody is perfect we all have some negative traits to our characters to some degree.  I watched a documentary about Charles Dickens and he was pretty foul to his wife, by all acounts but it doesn't stop me loving his work.

The poet and dramatist Ben Jonson was a murderer - although I suppose he killed the man in a fair fight. The artist Caravaggio the artist murdered a man in a brawl. The composer Gesualdo murdered his wife and her lover. I'm sure there are more!

What about those authors who murder English Prose?


Mikeharvey wrote:
What about those authors who murder English Prose?

They are the writers you must never criticise because you're a snob and an elitist if you do.

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