Questions tagged [inspiration]

Questions about the inspiration behind a work of literature, or an object or concept in a work: what it was based on, or where the idea came from.

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On what sources did Camões base his Os Lusíadas?

Os Lusíadas is one of the most important works of Portuguese literature, written by Luís de Camões in the 16th century and describing imaginatively the Portuguese voyages of discovery, mostly the ...
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Were all the Redwall songs created by Brian Jacques, or based on some real songs?

Brian Jacques's Redwall stories contain a huge number of songs: marching songs, drinking songs, campfire songs, feast songs, all of them different and none repeated from one book to another (as far as ...
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Was Austen Heller's name inspired by Henry W. Austin?

It's no secret that Howard Roark was loosely inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Interestingly enough, on a recent tour of Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Oak Park, IL, I encountered a park named after Henry ...
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In what way was Joseph Conrad influenced by Antoni Malczewski?

Antoni Malczewski was a Polish romantic poet, known for his only work, “a narrative poem of dire pessimism, Maria (1825). Wikipedia writes Maria was also influential on later Polish poets, especially ...
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Why did Fontane choose to write “The Tragedy of Afghanistan”?

Theodor Fontane, a German poet, wrote "Das Trauerspiel von Afghanistan" (translated here as "The Tragedy of Afghanistan") in 1847. It's about the aftermath of a massacre suffered ...
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In A Whiter Shade of Pale, is the miller's tale a reference to the Miller's tale in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales?

Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale" in The Canterbury Tales is a weird story about an older Miller, his young, beautiful wife who sleeps with a young Oxford student, and an admiring young ...
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Is Ant-Man a Myrmidon?

The Myrmidons, the soldiers from Achilles's homeland of Thessaly who are under his command in the Iliad, get their name from myrmex or ants. Achilles himself is the arch-Myrmidon. In Shakespeare's ...
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Was Shaw's “Arms and the Man” inspired by Shakespeare?

In Act III of the play Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, Sergius says to Louka, If these hands ever touch you again, they shall touch my affianced bride. Those words reminded me of ...
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What inspired the “fakir in a box” in Elizabeth Browning's “Aurora Leigh”?

In book V of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the narrator makes an elaborate simile between the condition of the Earth in the interval between the Fall and the Incarnation, and a ...
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What inspired the “lava-lymph” in Elizabeth Browning’s “Aurora Leigh”?

In book V of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the narrator asks herself what she expects to achieve in her poetry:                                           Shall I hope To speak my ...
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Do the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh really contain the same rare proverb about the strength of a triple-stranded rope?

According to the Wikipedia article The Epic of Gilgamesh, Several scholars suggest direct borrowing of Siduri's advice by the author of Ecclesiastes.[41] A rare proverb about the strength of a triple-...
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Did Camus have a known source of inspiration for Meursault's behaviour during and after his mother's funeral?

Camus's novel The Stranger begins with the news of the death and the funeral of Meursault's mother. Meursault smokes cigarettes during the wake, doesn't weep before, during or after the funeral, and ...
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Is there any deep connection between Hyperion (the sci-fi novel) and Hyperion (the poem)? [duplicate]

Hyperion is a sci-fi classic by Dan Simmons which takes its name from the poem by John Keats of the same name. The novel makes multiple references to the poem by Keats and actually Keats is even a ...
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Did Lois Lowry name the protagonist of the Giver from the biblical prophet?

Did Lois Lowry name Jonas, the protagonist of the Giver, after the biblical prophet Jonah? Both of them are at one point reluctant to follow their calling that they didn't choose, so there is some ...
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Did Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire inspire the Archers' Borsetshire?

Barsetshire is a fictional county of England, created by Anthony Trollope for his Chronicles of Barsetshire series published in the mid-19th century. The county town is the equally fictional ...
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Who was the first scholar who claimed that the Ur-Hamlet was influenced by the German play Der bestrafte Brudermord?

Thomas Kyd (1558—1594) is best known as the author of The Spanish Tragedy, a play that shares several similarities with Shakespeare's Hamlet. These similarities include a ghost demanding vengeance, a ...
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Was the main character in Gigi based on a real-life person?

Gigi, the female protagonist of Colette's novella Gigi (1944), is full of character. Independent and mischievous, and a little tomboyish, she leaves a lasting impression on the reader. I am wondering ...
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How relevant is the Atreides' link to Agamemnon in 'Dune'?

I was surprised to notice, when exploring Wikipedia's Epithets in Homer, that Agamemnon's individual epithet (or at least one of them) was "son of Atreus (Ἀτρείδης Atreídēs: also transliterated ...
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Where did the idea of mono no aware come from?

Piggybacking on this question, I am still curious about the mono no aware (物の哀れ) reading of The Tale of Genji. According to Wikipedia: Norinaga's most important works include the Kojiki-den (...
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What inspired the title of “Why Didn't They Ask Evans?”?

Why Didn't They Ask Evans? is a novel by Agatha Christie. In the story, a dying man's last words "Why didn't they ask Evans?" inspires an amateur detective investigation, in which ultimately ...
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Is there any evidence that Shakespeare ever used a Spanish source for any of his works?

Scholarly editions of Shakespeare's works always discuss real or potential sources for the plots and other aspects of a play or poem. Shakespeare invented very few plots and used sources such as ...
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Is there any evidence that William Shakespeare influenced Lope de Vega?

During the Spanish Golden Age of the arts, one of the key figures in Spanish literature was Lope de Vega, a prolific author of plays, poetry, and novels. He was approximately contemporary with William ...
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Is there any evidence that Lope de Vega influenced William Shakespeare?

During the Spanish Golden Age of the arts, one of the key figures in Spanish literature was Lope de Vega, a prolific author of plays, poetry, and novels. He was approximately contemporary with William ...
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Is The Shawshank Redemption based on a Leo Tolstoy story?

This Wikipedia article says that Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption “has been thought to be loosely based on Leo Tolstoy's 1872 short story "God Sees the Truth, But ...
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Was Maupassant's interest in madness and the supernatural linked to his own mental health?

The French publisher Gallimard has a short biography of Guy de Maupassant on its website. The last lines read, Vers 1885, Maupassant ressent les premiers symptômes de la maladie nerveuse qui l'...
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Who was Mrs B.Lewis?

Colin Dexter's protagonist was Detective Chief Inspector (Endeavour) Morse, in many novels and the TV series where he was played by John Thaw. Morse was named after the polymath crossword puzzle ...
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Any inspiration for the statue revival scene in Shakespeare's “The Winter's Tale”?

Shakespeare's "problem play" The Winter's Tale is largely inspired by Robert Greene's Pandosto written a few decades earlier. One of the major differences between Pandosto and The Winter's Tale is in ...
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Is Marie's comment based on the existence of a two-tier justice system in French Algeria?

In Camus' novel L'étranger / The Stranger, Meursault gets arrested for shooting "an Arab". During his pre-trial detention, his girlfriend Marie pays him a visit in prison and tries to give him some ...
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How might Shakespeare have become familiar with Dante's work?

A recent question on our site asked whether Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing contained a reference to Dante's Divine Comedy. In his answer, Matt Thrower mentions Beatrice, the name of both a ...
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In what ways does The Moviegoer echo Kierkagaardian existentialist principles?

How does the plot of The Moviegoer show the influence of existentialist authors, specifically Kierkegaard, on Percy's writing. I've also noticed some similarities between the "leap of faith" between ...
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Was Frederick Lawley based on a real figure in British India?

The fictional character of Frederick Lawley, a prominent British figure in colonial India, is the main object of R. K. Narayan's "Lawley Road" (a short story first published in 1956 in the eponymous ...
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Were the early sexual experiences of Lolita and her classmates inspired by the real experience of children in New England in 1947?

In the last pages of part 1 of Nabokov's Lolita Humbert relates Dolores's description of her own previous sexual experiences, in the course of which she mentions ways in which some of her coevals at ...
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What is the origin of the Aullay in “The Sword in the Stone”?

In T. H. White's novel, "The Sword in the Stone", he describes a mythical creature, the Aullay: [It was] as much bigger than an elephant as an elephant is larger than a sheep. It was a sort of ...
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What was Shakespeare's inspiration for the several cross-dressing episodes in his plays?

I've heard that Shakespeare borrowed ideas from the events and other literary works from the time. He uses cross-dressing as a major plot device in several plays. Where did this come from?
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What is the source of Irving Babbitt's disctinction between supernaturalism, humanism and naturalism

In the chapter "Ideals of Life" of My Country and My People, Lin Yutang writes (emphasis mine), The Confucian conception of man's place in nature is that "Heaven, earth and man" are regarded as "...
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How Did Aldous Huxley Know So Much About Music?

Background: The song "Take 5" by Dave Brubeck is one of the more famous jazz standards (famous jazz songs) out there, and one thing any musician would point out immediately is the tune's 5/4 ...
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Is Dhalgren's “orchid” based on a real weapon?

With reference to Samuel R Delany's book, Dhalgren: When The Kid "first" crosses the bridge into the autumnal city, he's met by a group of women who are exiting. They tell him it's dangerous inside ...
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The origin of Tolkien's use of the term “hobbit”

In a footnote on page 29 of The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun Verlyn Flieger notes the word korigans appears in the 1891 compendium of folklore known as The Denham Tracts (Vol. II, p. 79) where it is ...
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What is the significance of naming the djinni Bartimaeus?

In the Bartimaeus trilogy, the main character is the eponymous djinni Bartimaeus, a demon/spirit from "the Other Place" who is cheeky, witty, boastful, and at times surprisingly deep. Bartimaeus, ...
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Was the assassination plot in The Thirty-Nine Steps based on any real plot?

In John Buchan's famous short novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, much of the plot (ha) revolves around a German plot to assassinate the Greek Premier, which is thwarted by the story's hero. All this happens ...
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What did Gray mean by “where ignorance is bliss,'tis folly to be wise”?

Here's the last stanza of Thomas Gray's 1742 poem, 'Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College': To each his suff'rings: all are men,       Condemn'd alike to groan, The tender for another's ...
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Is there any evidence Mat Cauthon was inspired by Matthias Corvinus?

Matthias Corvinus, also known as the Raven King, was King of Hungary and Croatia for a while in the 1400s. He was a noted general, and extensively made use of Hussite mercenaries in his battles. He ...
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Was Rowling inspired by the railway station scene in Prince Caspian?

I was rereading Prince Caspian and noticed that in the start of the story they're in an empty, sleepy country station, and there was hardly anyone on the platform but themselves and then they're ...
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Who inspired Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem “Mother and Poet”?

"Mother and Poet" is an emotional and moving poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning about a woman poet who loses both her sons in battles in Italy. The emotions seem so raw that one might assume it ...
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What inspired E. M. Forster's short story 'The Machine Stops'?

E. M. Forster's short story 'The Machine Stops' was published in the 1909 edition of the Oxford & Cambridge Review and was prescient in terms of thinking about the downsides of the Internet - well ...
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Where does the name Childermass come from?

Returning to the tale of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, it occurred to me to wonder where Childermass (probably my favourite character) got his name from. Wikipedia informed me that "Childermass" is ...
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Did Peddana create Pravarakhya and Varudhini?

When I was studying in my high school, there was a lesson in my Telugu textbook about the travels of Pravarakhya and the places he saw in the Himalayas. It was a part of Manu Charitra, written by ...
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Does “The Whalebone Parrot” draw inspiration from any specific Apache sources?

"The Whalebone Parrot" is a short horror story by Darcie Little Badger. In it, a parrot is killed, and then possesses Loretta to try to kill the cat that killed the parrot. Darcie Little Badger often ...
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Is Caliban of Shakespeare's “The Tempest” based on a real life character?

In the book Over the Edge of the World the author Laurence Bergreen has described Ferdinand Magellan's daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled ...
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Relevance of the cloud chariot story to the rest of Midnight Robber?

Nalo Hopkinson's novel Midnight Robber contains a story entitled "How Tan-Tan Learn to Thief". It is one of the many elements from Caribbean culture that Hopkinson draws on in the novel. The story is ...