What do you think about the biographical and historical approach?

biographial approach, historical approach, literature criticism, book analysis

Hello book royalists!

I have come to talk about a topic that once I had a discrepancy with someone haha, so I would like to know what people that actually read thinks about this!

First, we need to know what that is. In literary criticism, the Biographical Approach is how people will analyze a text based on the author’s life and biography to see the relation between the writer’s life and their work. Usually, this approach will give some valuable insight into a text and that will help understand better the intention of the author. (Okay, so this is not quoting but that is the main idea XD)

Do you think it is necessary to know about the author?

I am a strong believer of the biographical approach in matters of understanding better the intentions of the author for its work. Depending on the book, it is necessary to know about the author. For example, knowing more about Oscar Wilde, his life and how he lived will allow you to understand better his intentions of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

It is important to know about the background of the author?

Yes, knowing about their background and where they are coming from will give a lot of sense to their work and their clear intentions. Also, it makes the work a little bit less fictional. For example, Tom Sawyer is partially based on Mark Twain’s childhood, so you not only know a little bit of his life while reading his books but also it makes it more real and less fictional. (Creative non-fiction)

Will this approach work for every single book you read?

I don’t think so. Not all the books are based on the author’s life or reality.

What does the historical approach have to do with anything?

Well, we have to understand better when the book was written and the society in which they lived in order to understand the text and not condemn it. Also, knowing about the society in which the text is based will open your eyes to its society and will help you know more about an old era that you did not live in. For example, knowing more about the Victorian Society and the social pressure for the population towards homosexuality and man to man relations will give a lot of sense to Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hide and how this “homosexuality” prohibition can be seen on the text.

Can you see this approaches applied in any book that you have read?

For example: The Hate You Give?

If you wish to check the Goodreads profile, hey! Feel free to go there! I have added the link to the review and the rating I gave to this book.

GoodReads – My profile

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  1. bookbeachbunny Avatar

    Interesting questions I suppose it depends on my purpose for reading the book. The historical approach to certain texts does give more context however. I tend to give more basis to that than biographical approaches. Authors are after all most products of their times. For all that however I’ve noticed those things can also be used against texts as well as in favor of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Satou Johns Avatar

      Yes, it is a sword of two edges (I think that is the saying XD) I agree that history will give you more information than knowing about the author, and I think they go in hand. I like the biographical also because if you know the author and his/her life and that the work is based on their life, it allows you to know the person better. For example, I am reading Little Women and Jo is based on the author’s life with touches of fiction, of course, but then you can see how Jo’s personality and dreams where hers… like it makes the book more real? You can understand better what Louisa went through and her struggles? and yes, that is why feminist have been really harsh with Louisa and the book since it does not fit exactly in their feminist vision.

      Thank you for commenting ❤


  2. Suziey Bravo Avatar

    It is helpful sometimes. It gives the story some context. And you see how the author got their inspiration from. It’s not completely necessary. But it is useful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Satou Johns Avatar

      It is useful! and I do think it gets you closer to the author. Like at some point, you will not have the author around and will be impossible to talk to that person or interview it, but if you know a little bit of his or her life, it will help you understand them better and their struggles! 🙂 Again, it does not apply to all books, but I think that some classics will make a lot of sense by knowing about the author 😀

      Thank you for commenting ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams Avatar

    Ohh this is such an interesting discussion – I do think both are important, but not absolutely necessary. I definitely think it’s more important to be able to place a book in terms of its historical context, because certain issues were discussed and viewed differently, and I do rate and critique books that were written in different time periods differently than contemporaries.

    And in regards to the biographical approach; it can be helpful to know where the author comes from when reading their book, but sometimes it’s also guesswork, because you never know how much is based on their life, and how much is fiction. And I feel like I’m rambling a bit at this point haha, but I hope this comment is somewhat coherent.

    Great post!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Satou Johns Avatar

      I love what you said! You are so right! We cannot critique a book based on our current ideals and society! and that is something really interesting about Little Women, and how feminists have approached and reproached the book and author based on their current position.

      You are making sense haha and I love that you are commenting and giving me your opinion! I think it is easier nowadays to know better if the book is based or not on the author lives. I think a lot of their life experience is impregnated in their work, and for old classic books is a mix of guesswork and research… right? XD

      Thank you very much for commenting Lily! ❤


  4. Priyasha Avatar

    I love the post 😍👌❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Satou Johns Avatar

      Aww thank you! :3


  5. Azia Avatar

    Awesome discussion post! Can’t say that I’ve ever taken time to really think this through, but generally I feel that it’s almost always helpful taking both a biographical and historical approach to classics, in particular, if you really want to have an understanding of the author’s intentions. If your goal is to conduct literary analysis of a text and to really gain a fuller understanding of the material, then I feel like it would be beneficial to start reading with a more informed state of mind. However, if you’re just reading to enjoy, then no approach is entirely necessary 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Satou Johns Avatar

      Thank you! I really like to see what people think! and the community is more vocal and tend to go less crazy with these topics XD
      Yes, I think classics are the best for this approach, and maybe in the future, today books will be classes? (????) XD I agree if you just want to enjoy the book just read it and like it fine. I love literary analysis haha (school will be always there XD) but I don’t think that all books nowadays are up to that kind of analysis? I cannot see myself doing that but I see HP under a mythological approach! :3

      Thank you for commenting ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Azia Avatar

        Some of today’s books are classics in the making so I’d say if you get that feeling from a book, then I’d say it’s a perfect opportunity to take the time to look at them from an analytical standpoint!

        And of course! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Satou Johns Avatar

        I will totally do that for sure! This is not my favorite approach if I can be honest… haha but I have don’t so and I have defended the Divergent series from one approach haha I regret nothing XD

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Bookish Pisces Avatar

    Now I feel like I need to go into the backgrounds of my authors! It would definitely give great insight 🤔 wonderful post love ✨


    1. Satou Johns Avatar

      Awww thank you! I did it with love ❤ haha
      Yes, it will add a lot of value but I think that that depends on the author and what they write… XD


  7. “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” ― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women – INKISH KINGDOMS Avatar

    […] For some background, please check out this post: What do you think about the biographical and historical approach? […]

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