I am 2/3 of the way through a monograph which argues all its claims by reference to what X "must" have done, or "would" have done, or "may" have done, etc., etc., etc. But why assume that even a highly-cultured author must have read Y (especially if Y is not in their library), or heard about Z? Author X may well know about Famous Work, but only at secondhand (Byron's Manfred is actually a famous instance of this--Byron was inspired by hearing about Goethe's Faust, not by Faust itself). Or Author X may have purchased Famous Work, but never got around to reading it; one can only imagine the outpouring of dissertations two centuries from now about the vast literary influence of Hawking's A Brief History of Time, a book more famous for being bought than read. Or Author X may have become bored and dropped Famous Work halfway through. Or Author X may have entirely forgotten reading Famous Work. By the same token: how do we know Author X "must have" had this experience? Or that they interpreted that experience in a particular way? Such speculation is tempting--and I've fallen prey myself--but in an apple-in-the-Garden-of-Academic-Eden sort of way. Most of us walk about well wadded with stupidity when it comes to contemporary culture, especially popular culture, even when we preen ourselves that it is otherwise: I've met a surprising number of academics who have never heard of the Left Behind series (er, kind of a major phenomenon?) because Christian publishing is entirely off their radar. I'm certainly clueless about all sorts of things, even though Future Graduate Student with magic access to my social media feeds might expect that I would be up on every sociopolitical trend known to humankind. Academics do sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that Past People have a kind of thoroughgoing cultural competency--let alone range of interests--that we demonstrably don't.