reading works by anti-gay authors

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reading works by anti-gay authors

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1kingkama Primer Mensaje
Mar 29, 2007, 11:28am

Orson Scott Card is on record stating that gays should be discouraged from living an openly 'homosexual lifestyle' and that CAN laws and such should be kept on the books to discourage homosexual behavior. I adore the Alvin Maker books (at least the first four) and the Ender series, and yet, I do not want to support this bigot. Should I simply separate the art from the artist or just stop reading books by Card? How about other authors like Knut Hamson who openly supported the Nazis? I honestly think about their bigotry when reading their works and think, "How can the author feel this way while creating such wonderfully sympathetic and caring characters like Ender or Measure or writing a masterpiece like The Hunger?" What are your thoughts?

Mar 29, 2007, 11:32am

When I like an author's works but not the author, I typically get them from the library or order them used. That way they aren't getting any money from me.

Mar 29, 2007, 12:30pm

To me, Morphidae's solution sounds like a winner. I can't say I regret reading Death on the Installment Plan because Celine was a rotter. I don't like Card's politics or religious convictions, but I also don't like his books much, so this one's no issue for me.

Editado: Mar 29, 2007, 1:49pm

For older writers, I tend to be a bit more forgiving, giving them a little leeway for the times in which they grew up ... for example, Graham Greene's casual anti-semitism certainly bothers me, but hasn't stopped me from reading his work ... I have very little tolerance for current bigot/authors, though, and I swore off of Orson Scott Card years ago ... it's not so much about him getting my money, it just made me feel somehow complicit by reading his books.

Jun 24, 2007, 11:44pm

I found Card's Songhouse touching when I read it, and skipped the heavy-handed homophobia as authorial interference. (Have you ever edited a book to, say, never read that chapter where the protagonist commits suicide?)

What do readers here do about authors like William S. Burroughs who compared homosexuality to heroin addiction?

In these cases I always find myself turning Oscar Wilde's quote over in my mind: "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written."


Oct 22, 2007, 7:27pm

It is very rare that I ever have this problem ... usually if someone is an asshole it's rare that I will like their work ... :)

Nov 4, 2007, 3:05am

just steal the books ;)

Dic 3, 2007, 1:34pm

If outmoded opinions of writers are not central to their writing, it would seem inappropriate to discredit everything they ever wrote. Who among us has never had an opinion that did not, over time, change? We should allow works of literature to stand for themselves... if flagrantly out of step with what we think of as an "evolved" opinion, they surely will be judged as notpassing the test of time.

Feb 3, 2008, 5:15pm

I agree with beejay. Moreover, writers, like most people, are flawed individuals, witness Malcolm Lowry, Truman Capote, and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name a few. There will always be some element to even the most amiable of writers that one might take issue with. Let their work be the deciding factor.

Jul 22, 2008, 9:38am

Hi Kingkama, as for me, I would not want to read a book that is written by an author that states such homophobic thoughts. How good the novel might be, when reading I would be bothered by this knowledge, and therefore unable to fully appreciate the art.

Editado: Feb 7, 2012, 12:15pm

I think you make an excellent point here. Every human being writes from their own experience and perspective. You have to allow for upbringing, experiences, culture, era. No person is all bad or all good. No one. So you do have to be forgiving and separate the writer from the quality of writing. It's tough, because it is our nature to put people in a box and label them. But bigotry is complicated, whether we like it or not. And bigotry comes from both sides, imo. My gosh, if I objected to every personal belief an author held, I would never read anything!

Feb 7, 2012, 12:51pm

On fiction and authors' beliefs:

I don't per se exclude writers based on their bigoted or ignorant beliefs.

However, I am more willing to avoid writers when (like Card) they move beyond ignorance into advocating based on their beliefs -- once you've started advocating, there's no excuse for ignorance; you have an affirmative duty to educate yourself fully if you're advocating to others on an issue.

And, I pretty routinely throw writers to the curb when their ignorance / bigotry seeps into their writing. At that point I might pick up the writer to understand or be familiar with a piece of the work, but they're not going to be on my general to-read list. If a writer can't get past their own prejudices in characterization, then, frankly, it's (a) distracting, and (b) raises questions about other aspects of their work.

The "let it go for they are a product of their times" argument doesn't wash. Good writers have understood that people are people regardless of race and gender. If Austen or Dickens could do it, what's Card's excuse?** He's a writer so he has imagination, AND he has had the benefit of science and social movements in the 20th century that have refuted numerous false beliefs about gender, race, and sexuality. He has been writing in the same era as decades of awesome women and queer writers. At this point, his ignorance is willful.

Editado: Oct 7, 2012, 5:15am

I have just read The Near and the Far by Leo Myers. This is an excellent book (tetralogy), both the story and its philosophy / spirituality. It was written in the 1930's. His attitude to homosexuality is disturbing but seems to be simple ignorance. A character in the books mentions it as a "rebellion against nature".

Myers was slightly associated with the Bloomsbury Group but I don't know if he knew E. M. Forster or Virginia Woolf. In any case, it has been written that "The Pleasance of the Arts" a decadent, artistically vulgar, sexually liberal community set up by Prince Daniyal in the second book is partially a satire of Bloomsbury.

Prince Daniyal is symbolic of an almost supernatural evil in the books. He is superficiality and inauthenticity to the extreme. And of course, Myers makes him homosexual. But for Myers, homosexuality seems to be a choice in poor taste. People in the "Pleasance" have homosexual sex because it is fashionable. So Myers has simply got his facts about what it means to be gay wrong.

It is a really minor aspect of the books anyway and it doesn't seriously damage the books for me. Myers doesn't at any point suggest hatred or rejection of someone because they are homosexual.

I have read a few of Card's books ages ago but didn't realise that he is a complete arsehole before reading this thread. I won't be reading any more but was not likely to have anyway.

I may have been lucky not to have struck any overt homophobia in the fiction have read. Perhaps I haven't realised it. I remember not being happy with the way gay sexual attraction was handled in Guardian of Dawn only to be surprised when I found that the author (Richard Zimler) is gay.

I am far more concerned about non-fiction, or more accurately fiction in the guise of non-fiction such as the works of Joseph Nicolosi. I don't think Card has anything on this monster. Overt homophobia can be fought and recognised for what it is; a Freudian defence mechanism. Nicolosi's pseudo-science is far more potentially harmful.

If we come across works that promote hated, violence or rejection of people on the basis of their sexuality, I think one thing to do is to give it an appropriate review as well as to call it out in these forums.