Movie director Victor Salva is a convicted pedophile. He abused a young actor on one of his movies. Yet I absolutely loved his film JEEPERS CREEPERS. Is that wrong? I did struggle with the question, ultimately deciding that, as a great many people worked hard on that movie, it was okay for me to appreciate it. I loved the film, even though I found Salva as a person loathsome. But how should we feel about writers who had personal traits that were repugnant? They alone created their works. Should we burn all copies of their books and try to pretend they never existed?
H.P. Lovecraft was a flaming racist. (Some, like the writer of this linked article, have allowed their hatred for Lovecraft the man to carry over to his work, labeling him a “lousy” writer. No, he wasn’t; whatever deficiencies he possessed stylistically, he more than made up for with his creativity and ability to impart a tone of nightmarish terror.) To a lesser extent, so was Robert E. Howard, who created Conan, and one of my favorite literary werewolves, Simon De Montour, the Wolfshead. To an even lesser extent, so was Edgar Rice Burroughs. So were most of the white American males of that day and age. Should we not, then, appreciate their literary efforts? If we do, are we, as some have accused, racists ourselves? Balderdash. A thinking person can read and appreciate an author’s work even if he finds the guy’s personal beliefs anathema to his own.