Charles Dickens abused his wife, yet wrote about characters: Pip, Oliver Twist, that were hallmarks of morality and good nature.
Percy Shelly, apart from being a profound poet and expert writer, was also a stud and an adulterer who abandoned his wife (she later committed suicide) for Mary Shelly.
T.S. Elliot was a visionary genius. But he was also an anti-semite.
Naipaul was notorious for his short-lived, abusive relationships.
Woody Allan seduced his girlfriend’s adopted daughter. (um…)
Earnest Hemingway blew his brains out with a double barrelled shotgun.
There are many types of disappointments. But perhaps the most scathing is when your love for a written work forces you to learn about the writer.
Then you learn how terrible of a person he/she is.
Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is my favourite science fiction novel, no questions asked. The setting, the story telling, the heart aching character dynamics, everything about that book will remain with me till I am old and grey. Ender’s Game is a master-piece of science fiction and literature.
But the writer is delirious. Card is probably an extremely decent and kind person on a personal level. But his wacky views are notorious for raising controversy.
No, not the fact that he does not support gay marriage. He is a republican, big whoop. Tolkien and C.S.Lewis would not have supported gay marriage had they lived in this time (I am willing to bet on that).
Who cares, it’s a personal opinion and a political one. Card is even generous enough to not preach in his writing. Ender’s Game is Ender’s Game.
Cool. I mean I can see what he is trying to do. With all the innocent civilians Obama has killed using drone strikes, Mr. President is tallying up his kill count.
But comparing him to Hitler is a stretch don’t you think? Not to mention the several racist rants the Mr. Card lets loose in this essay.
And here is my ultimate question.
Does it tarnish his work? Does it matter?
And here is the ultimate answer.
Because the work defines the work. The writing defines the writing.
Because the writer and his work are two different things. Human beings are strangely hypocritical, especially when it comes to writing. We feel comfortable elucidating our fears, desires and idealistic fantasies onto sheets of paper. But living by those very ideas are a challenge.
I do not defend Card nor do any of his fans. But we vehemently defend his work and the masterpiece he created in Ender’s Game. I do not care of Card’s personal opinions or his wacky political leanings or his stoutly weird beliefs. What I do value about Card is his storytelling and writing.
And that is why a writer’s work is immortalized in history, not his/her life.
I will see the Ender’s Game movie.
And most importantly, I will keep on re-reading Ender’s Game ever so often.
And I will feel no iota of regret, guilt or displeasure, just as I do not feel the same when reading Oliver Twist or The Sun also Rises or The Great Gatsby or Great Expectations or The Lord of the Rings.
You get the point.
That’s my two cents on Orson Scott Card.