POLL: On Having Opinions of Authors you Haven’t Read

Yesterday’s post sparked an interesting discussion. Another blogger claimed to not understand why Americans idolize Ernest Hemingway. Nothing really special there. I proceeded to ask which of his works brought about this negative opinion. This is where our paths diverted from one another. She hasn’t read him. Not at all.

My stance on this is that anyone can have an opinion on any particular topic, but if you are willing to share your opinion about an author and their work, then you should have read them. Maybe I’m crazy. This is how I think of it. Imagine taking a class on 20th century American Literature, right? And then finding out your professor had never read any 20th century literature. Would you still think you’re getting your money’s worth? I wouldn’t.

For the record, the other blogger didn’t claim to be an expert on anything. It’s just how a visualized it.

Now I pose the question to you. Is it necessary to read an author before sharing your opinion of them, their work, or their legacy with someone else?

I say yes. You should have read their work if you’re sharing your opinion of them with someone else. If I said, “I don’t understand why Jane Austen is always assigned in school.” I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect me to form that opinion AFTER exposing myself to at least some of the author’s work.

Remember this is about one’s opinion being credible. It isn’t about forming an opinion without familiarizing yourself with the topic. We all do that at some point.

Tell me your thoughts!