Every month I wonder if I’m going to keep up with the memes but then I remember that I’ve fallen so far behind on books that I might as well stay active through the memes… Perhaps I’ll read another classic next month, or the month after. I’m in no real rush these days and am enjoying reading whatever I want at the moment.
For July the hosts of The Classics Club have asked members
Have you ever read a biography on a classic author? If so, tell us about it. If you had already read works by this author, did reading a biography of his/her life change your perspective on the author’s writing? Why or why not? // Or, if you’ve never read a biography of a classic author, would you? Why or why not?
As far as I can recall, I have never read a literary bio. I have three or four Jane Austen and at least one (but probably two) Brontë sibling biographies sitting on my shelf, so clearly I would read one.* This harkens back to the August 2013 meme about reading forwards and my answer is similar.
Unlike, many readers, I do think it’s important to take into account an author’s life when reading their works. It doesn’t necessarily have to influence how you read the book or even how you interpret the book, but it can definitely change how you judge the book. Finding out an author was very young or old when they wrote a book or was incredibly sick or just married or any other number of extenuating factors can affect how you look at a book.
One of the reasons I love Austen and the Brontës so much is they were all writing ahead of their time and about taboo subjects that they’d never (presumably) experienced. I’d also probably consider reading a biography about an author I’m not a fan of (like Dickens) to find out what it is in their life that may have made/influenced them to write in such a way that I just can’t stand it!
*I do love the fan-fiction novels where authors are blurred together with their novels or fictionalized accounts of their lives, like the books Becoming Jane Eyre and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen or the film Becoming Jane.