Should You Let a Writer’s Philosophy Put You Off Their Work?

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Photo by My Life Journal on Unsplash

One for readers this time.

Orson Scott Card is a homophobe. J.K. Rowling has sadly turned out to be a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist). And we all remember the Lovecraft kerfuffle. On the more positive side, it’s hard to read Robert A. Heinlein’s juveniles without realizing that here is a man who loved the scouting movement which, with all its flaws, has done a lot for many young people across the globe.

Back to those negative ones, though. Should you stop reading a writer’s work because you disagree with their philosophy and beliefs? I tend to ask these questions:

Are They Still Alive?

Let’s start with this. Is the author literally dead. Because if they are, they aren’t benefitting from the sale of their works, and there’s no reason to be overly concerned about it.

Do They Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is?

What charities does the problem author donate to? Card, for example, is well known for donating money to organizations opposed to gay marriage. Which is why I have never actually bought any of his books. I still manage to own a signed first edition of Xenocide (long story), but if I want to read Card I’m going to the library.

On the other hand, I’ve yet to find Rowling donating to transphobic organizations.

If they are actively supporting a cause you are opposed to, then maybe it’s time to avoid giving them your money.

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Photo by Ergita Sela on Unsplash

Is The Philosophy in Their Work?

And finally, the big one:

Does it show?

Do the author’s beliefs show in their work? I already talked about Heinlein. That man loved scouting, and Tunnel in the Sky is really all about scouting. Now, I’ve def. got nothing against a book which might encourage a kid to go put on a uniform and learn how to start a fire, especially as the Boy Scouts are finally hauling themselves into the modern world.

Lovecraft’s work on the other hand is all entwined with his racism, and the modern movement to subvert Lovecraftiana (which I love and have dabbled in) only highlights it.

So, here’s what I would say:

Read it. Consider whether you want to give the author money.

But be aware of how their philosophy might leak into their work.

Read critically.

But then, we should all be doing that anyway.

Written by

Freelance writer, freelance editor, novelist and short story writer. Jack of many trades.

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