What books have you read where the author's own views were very obvious to you?
Posted on 12th of September, 2018

Answers

I'm going to go ahead and assume that you mean fiction authors as heaven knows there is no shortage of non-fiction authors who are unable to keep their opinions for themselves. I don't have an issue with authors writing about what they believe in, but if it feels like it is shoehorned in or obvious propaganda in any way, then I'm out. There are plenty of obvious examples of authors who use their writing as a soapbox for their personal views, but I'm more fascinated by books that seemingly contradict their authors. One of my favorite examples is Paradise Lost by John Milton.

I know that Paradise Lost is technically a poem and not a novel, but come on, it spans twelve books, so I'm sure nobody is going to nitpick this factor. For anyone here unfamiliar with their 17th-century poets, Paradise Lost is basically a massive poem about how Adam and Eve were tempted by Lucifer and tricked into the fall of man. Milton's views on the subject couldn't be any clearer, he explicitly states in the first book that it is written with the express purpose of justifying the ways of God to men.

The interesting thing is that despite Milton being a devout Christian and lots of devout Christian readers enjoying the books over the years, it doesn’t appear to be as clear cut when thoroughly examined. Some readers came to the conclusion that instead of the hero being one of the "good" characters, it is actually the "evil" character, Satan, who displays all the characteristics of a hero. It brings up an interesting point about how readers are actually the ones that have ultimate control over the message and viewpoints an author expresses in their books. Perhaps I'm reading too deeply into this whole thing, but it is interesting topic to explore if you are an avid reader.

Another interesting example would be the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. What makes these particular series fascinating is that while very good and quite popular, reading the books doesn't exactly give you any insights into the political leanings of the author. However, we live in the era of social media, so fans have a greater opportunity than ever before to gain insights into the minds of those they admire, which in this case is Rowling. She has made it abundantly clear on social media that her views are very progressive and that she fully supports social justice. It has also resulted in a couple of clashes with some of her readers when she suddenly began to change a couple of things about their back-stories to bring them in line with her views. The books are already written and nothing about them are changed in any way, so one could say that this is an easy way to gain favor and points with the progressive crowd without altering your artistic views or actually changing anything tangible about your existing body of work. I am in no way implying that authors cannot change their views over time or should always be beholden to what they have written in the past, but simply attempting to "rewrite history" so to speak is taking the easy way out.

I could list a couple more examples if anyone is interested in the topic, but I would love to hear what everyone else thinks about this type of phenomena.
One could argue that just about every book ever written incorporates the viewpoint of the author, no matter how unbiased or uninvolved they try to work. Plenty of authors, even some of the big names, have been unable to resist the temptation of creating a protagonist that is just a stand-in for themselves. It is probably a little inevitable that so many protagonists in books are writers themselves because authors stick to the old adage of "write what you know." If you mean more specifically about political or controversial viewpoints that are obvious about the author based on their books, I can think of one or two.

1. Rudyard Kipling ~ The Jungle Book ~ Rudyard Kipling was once seen as one of the greatest writers of his time, but a closer examination of his books in these, shall we say more enlightened times, reveals a author who was deeply cultural insensitive and believed a little too much in British superiority. This is really a pity as there is no doubt that he was a gifted author and many of his books are free of his prejudices or at least contain enough good to overshadow the bad. Unfortunately, he has also written stuff like "The White Man's Burden", which is basically a poem where he revels in the idea of colonialism.

2. H. P. Lovecraft ~ The Call of Cthulhu ~ If you read enough H. P. Lovecraft, you quickly begin to realize that the author was in fact somewhat of a racist. While this is extremely disappointing if you are a fan of his work and very hard to ignore once you notice it in his writing, one has to bear in mind that it was very much the norm for his time. This doesn’t in any way excuse his views, but back in those days, it was probably something that everyone saw as normal and Lovecraft was by no means the only one who was problematic.

3. Ender's Game ~ Orson Scott Card ~ There is still a of debate about this one, but the author of Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card, is an unapologetic homophobe and a lot of people have found his books reflect this viewpoint of his. It's more subtle in some books than others, but still make for uncomfortable reading once it becomes apparent.

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