We don’t live in a secluded bubble. We are all influenced by the world we individually live in. Everybody has stories to tell. The perspective and narrative change continuously and with every single person telling it. Stories are an endless and unstoppable metamorphosis. I believe that authors write about what they know, but realism needs imagination and thus that knowledge can take on innumerable forms and variations. The truth will remain at its core.
An emotion can be turned into a person, a person can be transformed into a place, a place can be twisted into a name. The options are never-ending. Metamorphosis is the key. Recreating what is given to you, good or bad, making it count.
I think it is not quite right to read an author’s work, (it’s more of a poetry issue than a novel issue I reckon), and confuse him/her with the narrator or the lyrical I. Interpreting their words with the author in mind and trying to fish for the real people and events that inspired the text. Unless clearly stated by the author that a specific text is based on a certain occurrence and therefore has realistic value, there are a million other ways to interpret a text and reading into the author’s life is a poor one demanding almost no imagination. I believe a text is given life in the mind of the reader and as soon as a text makes its way into the world, the author loses almost all control over it and that is a good thing.
Everbody comes from a different time and place with individual experiences and memories and the reader recreates the text. One text becomes a million. It changes continuously and in the best case scenario even a few times during the lifetime of a single reader. That is the revitalising cycle that keeps literature alive.
What matters is the active imagination of the reader, otherwise the author could have kept the text to him/herself. Extract the value out of a text for your own good. If an author has something personal to reveal to you, he/she will. If not, stick to the text because that is where you have actual space to find yourself and where your own imagination knows no boundaries and the author fades away in the background.
“Still Life with the Head of Dante” by John Quinton Pringle (1864-1925)