There is a debate within literature study as to whether one must know about the author or not in order to make sense of the text. Here in the first essay in the Spectator, Addison places the question a bit differently: rather than speaking of “meaning” he writes of “pleasure”:
I have observed, that a Reader seldom peruses a Book with Pleasure ’till he knows whether the Writer of it be a black or a fair Man, of a mild or cholerick Disposition, Married or a Batchelor, with other Particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right Understanding of an Author. To gratify this Curiosity, which is so natural to a Reader, I design this Paper, and my next, as Prefatory Discourses to my following Writings, and shall give some Account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this Work. As the chief trouble of Compiling, Digesting, and Correcting will fall to my Share, I must do myself the Justice to open the Work with my own History.
That places the question of reading on a very different foundation: is this something in which you can take pleasure?