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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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108 votes
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Why was 1984 set in 1984?

Was there any special meaning to the year he chose? I originally thought that he just selected a date in the future but now I am not so sure. Has George Orwell or his editor ever commented on the ...
Matrim Cauthon's user avatar
39 votes
3 answers
24k views

Was there a reason Victor Hugo chose 24601 as the number for Jean Valjean?

24601 has developed into being an iconic part of both the Les Miserables book and musical. Was that number special to him, or was it simply a random number he chose (I doubt it)?
Matrim Cauthon's user avatar
30 votes
1 answer
3k views

Did J. K. Rowling base platform 9 3/4 on the Gump?

In the Harry Potter series, there is platform 9 ¾ in Kings Cross Station. You travel through this place to go to a magical place. In The Secret of Platform 13, by Eva Ibbotson, (which is ...
Mithical's user avatar
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21 votes
0 answers
473 views

Is the treatment of Jar Jar Binks in Aftermath: Empire's End a reflection of audience treatment?

In one of the Interlude scenes in the book Star Wars Aftermath: Empire's End, a child interacts with Jar Jar Binks, and gives more details about how the adults don't like him due to their beliefs that ...
CBredlow's user avatar
  • 327
20 votes
2 answers
2k views

To what extent did Agatha Christie base Captain Hastings on Dr. Watson?

I've noticed that there are quite a few parallels between Agatha Christie's Captain Arthur Hastings and Arthur Conan Doyle's Dr. John Watson: Both served in the British military (Hasting in World War ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
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19 votes
1 answer
868 views

Are any Sherlock Holmes antagonists besides Moriarty based on real people?

I've heard that Arthur Conan Doyle's depiction of Professor Moriarty was inspired by several real-life figures, including Adam Worth. Given Doyle's wide-ranging set of villains and antagonists in the ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
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18 votes
1 answer
797 views

What did Suzanne Collins base the Hunger Games on?

Authors tend to pull a lot of ideas or write stories based on other works. After reading the novel Battle Royal, I saw lots of similarities between it and the Hunger Games. Do we know of anything that ...
Himarm's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
1k views

Were other characters apart from Alice inspired by real life people?

It is a commonly known fact that Lewis Carroll based Alice in his Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass on Alice Liddell, after she asked him to tell him a story. But were ...
Beastly Gerbil's user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
2k views

Was Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos based on the story beats of the same Keats poems?

I've read Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, composed of the books Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion. The series pays considerable homage to the life and works of the 1800s poet ...
doppelgreener's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
1k views

Was Neil Gaiman's Stardust influenced by C.S. Lewis?

A central theme in Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel Stardust is that stars, when they fall from the sky, take on the shape of human beings. One of the main characters is a fallen star who ends up living on ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
2k views

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 ...
auden's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
774 views

What inspired the writing of Sredni Vashtar?

Of the many short stories by Saki, I found Sredni Vashtar to be one of the darkest. While many of his stories are morbid, Sredni Vashtar has a young boy praying for the death of his guardian to ...
muru's user avatar
  • 6,989
15 votes
1 answer
1k views

Were R.A. Salvatore's works inspired by real world D&D campaigns?

I have been reading the Legend of Drizzt series by R. A. Salvatore. I am currently half way through Stream of Silver, which is in book two of the collection. While reading this, I noticed that it ...
DForck42's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
735 views

Was Théoden's revival inspired by Mark Twain?

I was reading Mark Twain's Joan of Arc and Joan converses with the Dauphin of France. The talk between Joan and the King was long and earnest [...] and has been set down in [...] testimony at the ...
Lianne Caranthir's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the foundation of the religion in Watership Down?

In Watership Down, El-ahrairah is essentially the father of all rabbits. He interacts with Prince Rainbow who seems to be a god. From where do the religious history and/or deities in the story come?
James Jenkins's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
245 views

Is this fictional event of a ship becoming airborne because of a storm based on a real event?

In the book Nation, by Terry Pratchett, a sailing ship becomes airborne from the force of a storm, and is pushed inland quite a distance, before becoming lodged in trees. Is this possible? If so, are ...
NiceOrc's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
2k views

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-...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
2k views

From where did David Foster Wallace draw inspiration for writing style and technique?

DFW has a peculiar writing style. For example, in his essay, Authority and American Usage, he makes use of a colloquial form of writing which is often repeated in his other essays. An example of this ...
user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
345 views

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 ...
user9909's user avatar
  • 141
13 votes
2 answers
2k views

What are the nets in Ender's Game? Are they based on anything in real life?

After reading Ender's Game, I liked the idea of "nets," and had some good ideas to put on there, but could never find them or what they are. Any idea, or is this just another fictional part of Ender's ...
Plqsmic's user avatar
  • 241
13 votes
2 answers
2k views

Are keteks based on some form of real-life poetry?

In Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive novels, the chapters are grouped into parts, the titles of the parts combining to form a ketek. For example, in the first book, The Way of Kings: Above ...
muru's user avatar
  • 6,989
13 votes
1 answer
718 views

Was Stevenson's Treasure Island influenced by Poe?

I read on Wikipedia that: During the same period, Edgar Allan Poe wrote, "MS Found in a Bottle" (1833) and the intriguing tale of buried treasure, "The Gold-Bug" (1843). All of these works ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

Origin of the war-cry "Eulalia" in Brian Jacques's Redwall series?

In Brian Jacques's Redwall series, "Eulalia" is the traditional war cry of the badgers and hares of Salamandastron. It's also the title of one of the books in the series, but it's used ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
12 votes
1 answer
3k views

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 45.2k
12 votes
1 answer
552 views

Who was Long John Silver based on?

In his little-known preface to Treasure Island (which I discovered while answering this question), Robert Louis Stevenson wrote rather persuasively on the possibilities for how a fictional character ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
12 votes
1 answer
2k views

Which traits of Milton's Lucifer from "Paradise Lost" did Neil Gaiman carry to "The Sandman"?

Lucifer Morningstar, the Vertigo Comics character, was created by Neil Gaiman with influence from John Milton's Paradise Lost - at least that's what is written on his Wikipedia page, and even on the ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
  • 8,454
11 votes
1 answer
264 views

Was Artemis Fowl based on any specific prodigy?

Artemis Fowl, (anti)hero of the eponymous novel series by Eoin Colfer, is a self-described criminal genius and prodigy. He is known to have broken numerous age records, perhaps most notably that of ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
1k views

Who was (were?) the inspiration for Carrie?

The Wikipedia article on Stephen King's Carrie says that Carrie is based on two girls in King's schools. It has this quote, with a "citation needed" attached: She was a very peculiar girl ...
muru's user avatar
  • 6,989
11 votes
1 answer
570 views

What parallels can be drawn between Hunger Games characters and their classical namesakes?

In the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, the minor character of "Cinna the poet" is brutally killed by an angry mob who mistake him for Cinna the conspirator. When he protests, "I am Cinna the poet", ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
11 votes
0 answers
202 views

Was Isidora's fate in Melmoth the Wanderer directly inspired by Faust?

When reading Charles Robert Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer I couldn't help but notice that Isidora's fate largely resembled Gretchen's in Goethe's Faust and especially the endings of both storylines ...
Cahir Mawr Dyffryn æp Ceallach's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
967 views

Are the guardians of Dream's palace based on mythology? Are they symbolic?

In chapter 3 of Season of Mists (The Sandman #24), there are three creatures shown guarding the gates of Dream's palace (left). The lion refers to the whole group as "Gatekeepers" (p 20-21). ...
Shokhet's user avatar
  • 5,990
10 votes
3 answers
3k views

What was "Rip Van Winkle" based on?

I was recently surprised to discover that the story of Rip Van Winkle is credited to the US author Washington Irving, who published it in 1819. I'd always vaguely imagined it to be a Brothers Grimm ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
10 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
jla's user avatar
  • 352
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

Did Stevenson really claim to have been inspired by brownies?

Jorge Luis Borges claims, in his Book of Imaginary Beings, that the author Robert Louis Stevenson attributed some of the stranger ideas in his writing to fantastical creatures such as brownies who ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
10 votes
1 answer
651 views

Was Shakespeare inspired by Olaus Magnus when writing Macbeth?

One important plot point in Macbeth is that the King feels invincible due to the prophecy that Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill Shall come ...
andejons's user avatar
  • 3,485
10 votes
1 answer
10k views

Is the character of Randolph Henry Ash based on any particular Victorian poet?

The novel Possession contains some spot-on mimicry of several different writing styles, including lengthy poems by two fictional Victorian poets. The character of RH Ash in particular feels as if ...
Joshua Engel's user avatar
  • 5,108
10 votes
1 answer
454 views

Was Edmund in the Narnia series loosely inspired by Edmund in King Lear?

In King Lear, Edmund, resentful of his inferior status to his older brother, betrays his family and frames his brother as a traitor. This strikes me as being quite a bit like what Edmund does in The ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

The real-life inspiration for the characters of Atlas Shrugged?

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is a good story paired with a (sometimes belabored) expression of the author's philosophy. I was wondering if there are any real-life connections to the characters of her ...
Shokhet's user avatar
  • 5,990
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Literary background of being poisoned via the ear?

Shakespeare's Hamlet famously features a character being killed by having poison poured into his ear. This unusual method of murder has been much referenced in other works since Shakespeare, but where ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
9 votes
1 answer
789 views

How much of The Song of Wandering Aengus by Yeats is based on Irish folklore?

Yeats was a keen student of Irish folklore and it is clear that the titular character in his poem The Song of Wandering Aengus is based on the pre-Christian Celtic god of love, youth and poetry. ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22.6k
9 votes
1 answer
744 views

Was the Stung Man based on an existing character from Egyptian mythology?

The Stung Man is the antagonist of Book of the Dead, the first TombQuest book. He's got an... Interesting backstory. The Stung Man wasn't called the Stung Man at that point, not yet. Everyone gets ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 25k
9 votes
1 answer
547 views

How did Ibsen's writing in A Doll's House influence the James Joyce character Molly Bloom?

How did Ibsen's writing in A Doll's House influence the James Joyce character Molly Bloom? Richard Ellmann in his book James Joyce mentions Joyce reading and getting influenced by Ibsen many times: ...
MikeRoger's user avatar
  • 396
9 votes
1 answer
313 views

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 45.2k
8 votes
1 answer
517 views

Was Neil Gaiman influenced by Heinrich Heine?

In my experience, Neil Gaiman's understanding of mythology and literature is exceptionally profound, and he is able to render stories with mythological resonance surpassing the work of most of his ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
  • 4,253
8 votes
1 answer
735 views

Is there a real-life inspiration for these death-scenes in Kincaid's novels?

Annie John, Kincaid’s 1985 novel, contains a description of the death of Annie’s Uncle Johnnie. When he fell ill, his mother was convinced that traditional (obeah) medicine was the way to cure him, ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
919 views

Is the song "Mabel Grey" by Brown Bird an allusion to a real ship?

The song Mabel Grey, by Brown Bird contains peculiar lyrics. The lyrics are awfully specific about what happened to this ship, which is a common pattern I see when a song is referent to a real-life ...
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
405 views

Was Susanna Clarke using any particular author's style for "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell"?

Susanna Clarke's excellent novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is written in a very convincing (at least to me) "19th-century literature" style. Not only the language used by the characters but ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
8 votes
1 answer
3k views

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 ...
Nog Shine's user avatar
  • 241
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

What evidence is there for Tolkien's One Ring being based on the Ring of Silvianus?

I recently heard a theory that parts of Tolkien's legendarium and the Lord of the Rings story may have been inspired by the real-life Ring of Silvianus: As Wheeler consulted with J. R. R. Tolkien ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
8 votes
1 answer
244 views

Is there evidence that the fate of some "A Song of Ice and Fire" characters was inspired by the "Divine Comedy"'s contrapasso?

In the Inferno in Dante's Divine Comedy, sinners are punished by a process that either resembles or contrast with the major sin they committed. For example, the violent are submerged in a river of ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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