This week’s Booking Through Thursday highlights an issue that I have often contemplated in the past:
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?
It’s more than a simple matter of ‘love’ or ‘hate’. In the past, I have felt iffy about delving into the lives of writers – especially those whose work I adore – because I feel as though it will somehow taint my perception of their literature. Of course, I’m speaking more generally about nonfiction, including writings not originally intended for publication. Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath and several other writers have had their diaries and correspondences have been posthumously published, and I find myself wondering whether it’s acceptable.
Nevertheless, I do read them, because I want to know more about the writers I love. And it’s inadvertently the case that these biographies and letters and diaries do transform the way we perceive literature – but it’s in a positive light. I’m not sure how it is for others, but I find myself appreciating a book more when I have a knowledge of the circumstances in which that book was conceived. What else, but biographies and other such writings, could illuminate the way for us readers? It is then that we are able to truly see that literature and life are deeply intertwined.