Before you criticise any past writer, remember…

The biggest difference between today’s writing and the writing of the past is that writers are no longer put to death. Writers nowadays could never dream of having to die for what they have written. Even if writerly execution was not always common, the possibility of death was implicit in every act of writing. The zone within which writers worked was marked out by this juridical possibility. But in the West today there is no writing for which a person could conceivably be executed. This alters the whole nature of scholarly inquiry. It is also partly responsible for the bloodless mediocrity of most contemporary writing.

Ben Myers. See the full post.