The chapter of Michael Meyer’s “The Compact Bedfort Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing” discusses the bibliographical strategies.
This critical strategy for reading lies in juxtaposing the content of the work of literature with the biographical data about its author. As a result, bibliographical strategy allows the reader getting a deeper understanding of the work. The peculiarity of the bibliographical strategy is that it demands some additional work to be done by the reader; this work includes finding the facts about the author’s personal life and comparing the date of work creation with a certain period of the writer’s life. However, all the reader’s efforts will be rewarded with a profound understanding of the plot. In addition, based of the efficient analysis of the biography, the reader can develop his or her analytical skills, and perceive the plot not as a separate phenomenon, but as a reflection of the author’s personality. The application of the bibliographical strategy changes the conventional way of book perception. Thus, for an ordinary reader the “Childe Harold Pilgrimage” would be an excellent example of the use of language and poem composition.
However, a more critical reader who uses the biographical approach will know that the poem is based on the notes, which Lord Byron took while traveling to Spain, Malts, Albania, Portugal, etc. This points to the fact that, unlike other romanticists, Byron saw the romanticism in reality, but not in imaginary countries. Another example of the strategy application is the analysis of the literature heritage left by Aurore Lucile Dupin, known more as George Sand.
It is obvious that the writer dedicated most of her works to the fight against the social inequality. This fact can be easily explained by some information about the woman’s biography. It appeared that George Sand was a daughter of an aristocratic father, while her mother was a commoner. For this reason, she often was discriminated and laughed at in aristocratic communities, which served as a determining factor in the writer’s themes.
As it can be seen from the examples given below, the biographical method is rather effective, and using it is rather helpful. However, not in all the cases one can find a straight connection between a work of literature and it’s author’s life. Here it would be relevant to mention the Meyer’s statement: “Sometimes biographical information does not change our understanding so much as it enriches our appreciation of the work” (Meyer, 1543).
Indeed, while some critics advise to analyze the work apart from the author’s life, it has to be remembered that the facts from personal life of the author influence their writing both consciously and unconsciously. Depending on personal emotions, states, and experiences, the writers and poets can choose a certain theme, mood, tone, and style of writing. Let us remember the Picasso’s “blue period”, when his paintings were all moody and pessimistic. This period coincides with the death of the artist’s best friend, Casagemas. Thus, even on the works where the painter does not depict his grief or the dead body of Casagemas, the viewers can see the mourning mood. Even the casual portraits created at that period seem to be pessimistic. This proves once more that the work of art, whether it is a painting, a musical composition, or a work of literature, cannot live a life separately from its creator. All in all, it has to be said that the bibliographical strategy is always relevant while reading a text.
I believe that bibliographical strategy will develop my critical and analytical abilities. What is more, this strategy will help me to improve my writing style, as far as knowing it will induce me to choose the language tools more carefully. Consequently, my writing will become more effective and skillful.
Meyer, Michael. The Compact Bedfort Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing.
New York: Bedfort, 2002.