How does an author’s personal history or cultural background influence what he or she writes about? Are history and literature related? I believe that many authors a very influenced by their own background and the subjects they write about. Authors write about what is familiar. Authors write about something that they feel strongly about or love. I also feel that history and literature are closely related. Many great novels of this world have their basis in stories of the past, true stories taken from history. For one thing, authors usually write about what they already know about or what they see, or what they experience in life.
They often write about the history of their family, town, or whatever place they live in. Books where the author understands his subject and feels comfortable and passionate about it are the most interesting. When an author’s writing has been influenced by his or her personal history and cultural background, the writer understands it. It’s also much easier for an author to write about something having to do with their personal history or cultural background. If we are familiar with a subject it is much easier to convince our reader of the ‘experience’ or ‘story’ that is being written about.
Although Nathaniel Hawthorne’s allegory, The House of Seven Gables, was not entirely true, the incomparable part of it had to do with his personal history and his cultural background. His relation to the house was from his cousin Phoebe and the ideas about the witch trials were because he was living in the very time they were taking place. Therefore, I do think that the personal history and cultural background affect what the author writes about whether the book be fiction or non-fiction, but most of the time, non-fiction.
An example of an author I can come up with where I strongly think their personal history and cultural background significantly influence what she writes about is Amy Tan. I have read two of her novels, The Joyluck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife. She wrote about Chinese Americans living in San Francisco. A subject she knows much about and has lived through. Her books are so fascinating because she knows her subject well. They are novels yes, but we can trust that in many ways this is what a Chinese mother living in San Francisco may have behaved like or said.
History and literature are also linked by way of story. History has given us so many stories to tell, stories that are incredible and sometimes unbelievable. So many fairy tales of kings, queens, evil enemies and great battles have their root in history. There existed evil kings that did atrocious things such as King Henry and his eight wives, and they make fascinating material to write about. Truth is stranger than fiction they say. Queen Elizabeth and her life have been written about so many times.
Shakespeare must have gotten many of his ideas of history. During his time there was no television, no internet, but there was history and it offered him a treasury of stories and tales and subjects to write about. An example of a play that was written to entertain but had historical roots was “Richard the III”. Writers often write about what they love because they want the reader to share that feeling. A Russian author may love his country so much that all his books may be about Russia, its history, culture and people.
Another author from South America will write about his or her country there. It may be told in the form of a story or play, but will reflect the people and way of life and history of the country it is from. An author may spend a great deal of time researching an important historical event because it is important to them. They will want to spend time researching and learning more about their own culture if it is important to them. Human history has given us more stories and subjects to write about than perhaps even an author’s greatest imagination.
If someone has thought about it, it may well have happened somewhere in time and history. So taking from history, many great and memorable novels, books, plays and poems come from authors closely linked to the topic written about. Books are more interesting when we can feel what the author is trying to make us feel. If an author did not understand his subject or feel anything about it whether it was hatred or love or some other strong emotion, how could we as reader’s find it interesting at all?