Do writers’ private lives matter?

Last week on, Laura Miller chimed in with a measured response to the Franzen-Wharton criticism controversy. An excerpt:

“It is, indeed, aggravating that for many male writers, as for most men, looks have had relatively little influence on their fates or reputations while the opposite is true for women. (That said, it’s difficult to imagine an ugly Lord Byron having cut so wide a swath in the imaginations of so many readers.) For women, prettiness or the lack thereof has long been treated as the most important measure of feminine worth..Disparaging a man’s looks simply doesn’t have the same impact.”

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