Get Friendly with the Author

by #Saf Ou

Remember that the piece of literature you are studying was written by a human being who actually lived, breathed and died on this earth! This person had feelings and troubles and headaches and colds, they fell in love and had children and they were real! Find a way to discover the author or poet, research them on the internet read their biographies and autobiographies, look at their pictures. In literary theory, it is believed by some that a writer’s work is only the reflection of his own life and his surroundings. Let me provide you with some examples:

F. Scott Fitzgerald loved and lived for his wife Zelda. His motivation for writing was to make money so he could afford to marry this beautiful, mysterious woman. This was in the 1920’s in America, Zelda was a flapper (kind of women who wore short skirts, had short hair and loved to party…) and Fitzgerald was always running around taking her to all the glamorous parties. His adventures with this lady in part inspired The Great Gatsby, he was a mix of Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. He had a little girl called Francis Scottie that he adored. And when Zelda finally broke down and slowly lost her mind from the pressures of the glamorous life she loved, she became the inspiration for Nicole in Tender Is the Night. You see the difference it makes once you know these things? Type F. Scott Fitzgerald on Google, get to know him as a person, and I guarantee you will enjoy reading his work more, and you’ll understand it better.

Charlotte Bronte was an orphan, having lost her mother very young, much like her character Jane Eyre. She, like Jane, went to a very strict, miserable school almost identical to Lowood, and in this very school two of her sisters fell ill and died from the terrible conditions just like Helen Burns in the novel. Bronte fell in love when she was studying abroad with a man who inspired the character of Edward Rochester. These were the things that helped her construct her fiction, because, if you remember the (boring) philosophy lessons from high school, imagination is basically building and creating things that are based on stuff you’ve already seen and experienced. Only God can create something never seen before!

Do you notice something funny about the examples above? The best writing is provoked by an author’s experience with the person they love! Bronte had her Mr Rochester (though she never married hers), F. Scott Fitzgerald had Zelda for inspiration. D.H Lawrence wrote Sons and Lovers in an effort to understand his relationship with the mother he adored, and T.S Eliot wrote the Wasteland when his marriage to Vivienne Haigh-Wood was at its worst. Writing is all about digging into one’s deepest emotions, darkest troubles and brightest hopes to create something beautiful. Next time you read something, try to understand what pushed the writer to put that piece of work out there for you to read.

More coming soon!


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