This week's BTT topic:
Have you ever been put off an author’s books after reading a biography of them? Or the reverse - a biography has made you love an author more?
Well, my answer to the first question would have to be "I don't think so." (Yes, I know that's waffling – but at this hour it's hard for me to be real decisive). I can't really recall ever being put off an author's work after finding out about their personal story. I don't read that many actual biographies and in most cases (for the contemporary literature I read, anyway), I don't know any more about the author than the bits of info I get on the dust jacket or book cover. Sometimes I glean a little more from book reviews or bookstore and publishers' promotional material, but I rarely seek out anything more than that.
But even when I do know more about an author's biography, I don't think that has much influence on how I feel about his or her writing. If I let myself be put off by a writer's private life or opinions, I would never have read Norman Mailer or Lewis Carroll or Henry David Thoreau or Dorothy Parker or Oscar Wilde or J.D. Salinger, or any number of other wonderful writers.
Of course, there are some books that affect me so much I'm moved to find out more about the writer; but these days, those are few and far between. I guess I have to admit that I really don't care to know all that much about an author's biography. It's a little different for some older works, and the "classics" – well, I probably know more about those authors because I've studied them in school. But there again, I don't think their personal stories affect the way I feel about their work. Unless I find out they've plagiarized it – I suppose that would be the one thing that would make me change my opinion.
As I say, I don't read many biographies. And of the ones I've read, I don't know that any has made me "love" an author any more or less; but sometimes a biography or autobiography will make me more interested in a writer's work. For instance (although it was a historical novel, and not an actual biography), a book I recently read based on the life of Henry James (The Master, by Colm Toibin) has made me want to read more of James's work. But in general I think I prefer to let the work stand on its own.