Literature's Most Difficult Question - Op-Ed Piece

There is an unanswered, difficult question that all readers must face in their literary life.


Perhaps after you read Harry Potter you will come across this.

Or maybe when you read the latest bestseller, (that we definitely reviewed here), you’ll see it.

Or maybe it’s when you are perusing through a classic you haven’t read in a while.


No matter the scenario, this question is there for you.


I can’t answer this for you either.

Schools do their best to answer this for the young ones.

But no one can tell you what to think here.


The question is …

Art vs. artist?


What should you value?

The art, or the book?

The artist, or the author?


Should you care if an author is a “bad” person?

Should that stop you from reading and appreciating their work?


But what if the piece has nothing to do with the “badness” of the person?

What if you read it and didn’t know a “bad” person wrote it?


Is that okay?

Can you appreciate art without acknowledging the artist?

Read Homer, yet not utter his name?

Read Poe and pretend like he didn’t write it?

Read Dickinson and act like it was written by someone anonymous?


And what of the books that are “bad” but the author is “good”?


Is that okay?


So when you read a book of a “bad” thing, that is fine, but when you read a book by a person who does “bad” things, that is not fine.


Art has life, we know this.

Some books have long outlasted their original authors’ time on earth.

It is the beauty of art.

That a person today can read someone from a few hundred years ago, and enjoy their take on the world.

The words speak to us.


Who are we kidding here?

We need all the help we can get when it comes to expressing ourselves.

So when we read a book that we can quote, we attach to it, because it helps us say things we didn’t know how to say before.


For some of you, art is the only thing that keeps you going.

In the secular society we live in, where religion is mocked and government is frowned upon, art is the only area that can actually help you.

So you read those few words of your favorite poet.

You listen to your favorite song.

You watch your favorite movie.

When you do, it helps you, like that of a sick person taking medicine.

Because for that brief moment, you feel there is someone out there in the world who is actually fighting for you.

They know your pain.

They know your victory.

They know how you feel about life.

They’ve lived it too.

This all presents the uncomfortable possibility that the art is more important than the artist, so we shouldn’t care for the artist, “good” or “bad”.


But that is not right?

What of right and wrong?

We know they exist.

And there is a proper and decent way to go about your life here.

Doesn’t the morality of the artist have some weight?

They are flesh and bones.

They lived here.

They walked among us.


Do we really want the “bad” guys to be the ones who express our best art?


How can we simply ignore morality, just for a work of art?


And most importantly,

Who gets to decide all of this?


Who is allowed to be the judge here?

And why is that the case?

Who decides what is “good”?

Who decides what is “bad”?

And to what basis is their argument formed?


Like I said, this is not an easy question.


But maybe the next time you pick up a book, you’ll think about what exactly you value in it.

Read more pieces by this blogger.

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About The Blogger

Greg Luti is an editor, and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.

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