Questions tagged [inspiration]

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

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623 views

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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1answer
38 views

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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1answer
97 views

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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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 ...
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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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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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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 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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Does David Housewright borrow from Michael Connelly's character Harry Bosch to develop his character Rushmore McKenzie for the McKenzie novels?

First I read Michael Connelly's books featuring Harry Bosch. Now I'm reading David Housewright's books featuring McKenzie. At times, I nearly get the two characters confused because of their ...
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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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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 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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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 ...
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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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314 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 ...
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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 ...
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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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159 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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1answer
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Vision of the future in Max Beerbohm's “Enoch Soames”

Max Beerbohm's 1916 novelette "Enoch Soames" (available e.g. at Project Gutenberg) is the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil for the privilege of spending an afternoon in a library (the ...
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Could you actually go around the world in 80 days?

Around the world in 80 days is a novel be Jules Verne about an Englishman who makes a bet with some fellow club members that he can travel around the world in 80 days. Nowadays with modern flight, ...
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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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869 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 ...
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1answer
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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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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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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 ...
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1answer
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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 is the real “Consortium” as mentioned in Dan Brown's Inferno?

On the "FACT" page of the book Inferno by Dan Brown: "The Consortium" is a private organization with offices in seven countries. Its name has been changed for considerations of security and privacy....
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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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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Was the Wood in Tales of Goldstone Wood inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia?

Golden Daughter describes the Wood as follows: The Wood is bigger by far than any mortal mind can comprehend. It is not a world in itself but rather the seat of worlds, containing with its vastness ...
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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 ...
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677 views

Was “All Summer in a Day” based on any real childhood event?

Ray Bradbury's famous short story "All Summer in a Day", which can be read online, is about a girl from Earth, Margot, who's ostracised by her classmates on Venus. They've never seen the sun, but she ...
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Origin of Dry Bone in Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber

Nalo Hopkinson's novel Midnight Robber contains a story entitled "Tan-Tan and Dry Bone". It is one of the many elements from Caribbean culture that Hopkinson draws on in the novel. Hopkinson's novel ...
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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 ...