top of page

The Flavour of the World

I’ve read a lot lately about morality in art. You might have seen the same kind of thing, especially with the current wave of allegations against senior figures in the entertainment industry. Corruption, crime and immorality should be shunned and cast out wherever it is found. The issue of how this affects art has been around for much longer though: it’s the question of to what degree should we modify our views about a work of art (including a performance) based upon what we know about the morality of the artist/performer?

Sylvia Plath was allegedly a racist; Woody Allen a pedophile; C. S. Lewis possibly homo-phobic. The list, once you begin, is probably endless. Most great artists have had personal lives full of some form of wickedness, some of it conscious and depraved, some of it driven by unconscious promptings. To what degree should any of that affect the way we view their art?

There are a number of ways of looking at this. One is to recognise that the connection between a wor