Thursday, May 25, 2006

David Lodge on Literary Biography

David Lodge on literary biography:

Revelations about a writer's life should not affect our independently formed critical assessment of his work. They may, however, confirm or explain reservations about it.

From "The Lives of Graham Greene" in The Practice of Writing (1996).


Stefanie said...

A nice sentiment in theory, but is it really possible?

Booklad said...

It's a nice sentiment to think about, but in the real world it doesn't work. I don't read Ayn Rand primarily because of her testimony in front of HUAC and her support of right-wing ideology. And I don't think I'm missing anything. She can't write worth beans anyway.

And I've stopped reading Orson Scott Card because of his increasing homophobia. There are too many good writers out there to waste time with fools.

Julie said...

Oh, that's a good one! I think it's sometimes possible. Perhaps it depends on the degree to which the writing is a reflection of the revelation? To use my favorite author as an example, in real life, Patrick O'Brian supposedly deserted his first wife and their severely disabled child. Yuk. However, in his later books he writes lovingly and respectfully about an autistic child. If this is his way of coming to terms with the actions of his earlier self, more power to him.

On the other hand, if Orson Scott Card's books are full of unquestioning homophobia I will join in the boycott. I'm a little annoyed with him, anyway.