There have been some super-interesting conversations about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s work in the context of larger discussions on the artist vs. their art. I think we all know that all artists are flawed, but clearly some flaws are larger than others.
For those of you who don’t yet know, I broke the news about Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s child abuse of her daughter Moira last month.
I haven’t heard the artist vs. art argument said quite this succinctly, so I’m quoting Broomstick from The Straight Dope boards:
When evaluating a novel it doesn’t get better if the author is a saint, and it doesn’t get worse if the author is a sinner, it’s the same book either way.
Every art contains, to some extent, the artist’s worldview. How could it not? And yet it is a thing distinct and unto itself, though with a context. The meaning you read into it depends on the context you bring into it, too.
And the context you miss depends upon your own life context, too.
When I was 11, Jane Fonda’s movie Klute came out, and my parents took me with them. I can cheerfully say that most of the movie went “whoosh” right over my head. If I saw it today, I’d see a completely different film.
It’s that old Heraclitus quote:
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
And that may be one reason not to re-read a previously-loved book, like a Darkover book or Mists of Avalon, after finding out Marion Zimmer Bradley’s failings.
Because the context is different for you even though the book hasn’t changed.
And then there’s the other killer comment, from ShipperX on LJ:
With MZB it’s the sexual nature of her work combined with the sexual nature of her atrocities that has me backing away. ::shudder::