Why it is Not Fair to Compare a Good Author with Another Good Author
One thing that I believe no one should do, as a reader or as a critic is to compare a good author with another good author. And, in this article, we are going to talk about why it is not fair to compare a good author with another good author. I do not like the concept of comparison in general and it is unfair to judge creativity. Would you like it if you and your siblings both got good grades but your score is getting judged just because you are an Arts student? No, right! Yes, as a human we have our favourites – a best friend, a favourite dish, a favourite fictional writer, a favourite place, and more.
Would you be able to decide who is the best among William Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf? I am afraid not because then you have to decide between history/tragedy and biographical/feminist writing? Would you be able to decide who is the best among Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir? No, because then you have to choose between existentialism and feminism. Well, of course, you can choose to say that you love Shakespeare more because you love his way of writing his plays. Or, you could say you love Jean-Paul Sartre because you love to read about the theme of existentialism. But, can you in any way compare them with the work such as Mrs. Dalloway or The Second Sex and prove that they are incompetent as a popular book?
If we talk about contrasting or opposing writers such as Walt Whitman and Wilfred Own – one is a patriotic writer and another is an anti-war writer. Walt Whitman’s popular work O Captain! My Captain! Is a patriotic poem as it discusses victory but the poet is in grief as the captain has died. The ‘captain’ of this poem is assumed to be Abraham Lincoln as Whitman was very attached to Lincoln and even considered him as his father. On the other hand, Wilfred Owen’s popular work Dulce et Decorum Est is a well-known anti-war poem coming from a poet who has suffered war and the horrifying visuals of the death of innocent soldiers. The poem explores how war should not be glorified in a way to inspire young soldiers that makes them believe that it is sweet to die for the nation. Because of the frightening and horrible situation, a soldier faces no one else can even imagine. Would you be able to compare the adequacy between these two poets?
Everyone should respect everyone’s preference unless it is causing harm. It would be very ridiculous to get into an argument about who is the better writer. If we even talk about autobiographical works say De Profundis by Oscar Wilde and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, there is not the slightest amount of doubt that both of these works are remarkable. Now, yes if you choose to be biased to your favourite genre and say that Sylvia Plath had a more pathetic death than Oscar Wilde then yes, it is true. Or, if you have an emotional association with Oscar Wilde for going to prison because of his sexuality and Alfred Douglas, it is understandable. But can you compare both the writings and say oh he wrote better than she or she wrote better than him?
Well, Carl Jung said that everyone cannot be an artist but they sure can be a critic. But honestly, are we in any position to judge someone’s creativity let alone to compare the work of a good author with another good author?