Don’t judge a book by its author?

It looked interesting and I liked the style when I peeked at the opening paragraph. So, a few minutes later I left the library with it under my arm, a new literary adventure ahead. Always a pleasant prospect.

According to the book’s short biographical note, Paul Morand was one of the leading French writers of the 20th Century. What it didn’t say, and what I found out from several internet sources when I got back to my office, is that he was also a staunch white supremacist, a lifelong anti-semite, and a prominent and unrepentant Nazi collaborator during World War II. The book went back to the library unread.

Life is too short to waste it on books written by people who helped to make the Holocaust a reality, regardless of the quality of the books themselves. I know that not every author I read is a saint or a paragon of virtue. But I like to feel that the author is someone I might like to meet in person or at least someone who deserves to have their work read and given some moral weight. I need to be a little better at doing my homework before I get to the checkout desk. However, the library is up a hill so I can always use the exercise.

6 thoughts on “Don’t judge a book by its author?

  1. Beth Doshay

    Hadn’t thought about this particular point before, but it’s a really good one. It does matter who the author is- if the things he/she stands for or the things he/she has done are particularly heinous to the reader. I can’t enjoy a movie nearly as much, for example, knowing the actor does things or advocates for things against my principles in his/her real life. I would tend to avoid movies with that actor. I believe strongly in freedom of speech, but I also have freedom of choice.


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