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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100
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4answers
23k views

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 ...
33
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1answer
11k 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)?
24
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1answer
2k 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 ...
22
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2answers
9k views

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, ...
20
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0answers
283 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 ...
18
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2answers
910 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 ...
16
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1answer
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 ...
16
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1answer
481 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 ...
15
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1answer
753 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 ...
15
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1answer
1k 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 ...
14
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2answers
688 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 ...
14
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1answer
430 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 ...
13
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1answer
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 ...
13
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1answer
1k 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 ...
13
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2answers
573 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 ...
12
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2answers
155 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 ...
12
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1answer
1k 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 ...
12
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2answers
1k 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 ...
12
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1answer
414 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 ...
12
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1answer
1k 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 ...
11
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1answer
202 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 ...
11
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1answer
801 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 who came ...
11
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1answer
340 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 ...
11
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0answers
528 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 ...
9
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1answer
928 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 ...
9
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1answer
550 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. ...
9
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1answer
6k 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 ...
9
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1answer
64 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 ...
9
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1answer
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 ...
9
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1answer
420 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). ...
8
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1answer
591 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 ...
8
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1answer
1k 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 ...
8
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1answer
519 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 ...
8
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0answers
200 views

Is there a specific tuition system that the University's was based on?

In Patrick Rothfuss' The Kingkiller Chronicle, students at the University are asked to pay a variable amount for their tuition per term, based mostly on their performance in an interview in front of ...
7
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1answer
391 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 ...
7
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1answer
643 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 ...
7
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1answer
242 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 ...
7
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2answers
122 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
608 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 ...
7
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1answer
501 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 ...
6
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2answers
2k 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 ...
6
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1answer
92 views

How many works of Robert Silverberg's were based on Asimov's stories?

It's well known that Silverberg wrote novels based on some of Asimov's stories. For example, The Child of Time was based off of The Ugly Little Boy, and Nightfall was based off the Asimov story of ...
6
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1answer
175 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
151 views

Was Ellsworth Toohey's public speaking style modeled after Harold Laski?

The first time that Peater Keating hears Ellsworth Toohey speak, it's described as follows: It was not a voice, it was a miracle. It unrolled as a velvet banner. It spoke English words, but the ...
6
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1answer
172 views

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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0answers
5k views

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....
6
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0answers
278 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 ...
5
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1answer
376 views

How much does “The Parable of the Old Man and the Young” differ from the original Bible story?

The poem "The Parable of the Old Man and the Young", usually attributed to Wilfred Owen although much of it was written by Siegfried Sassoon, is a slight retelling of the Biblical story of Abraham and ...
5
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2answers
5k views

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 ...
5
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1answer
599 views

Was Hardy's “A Few Crusted Characters” based directly on the Canterbury Tales?

I've just been reading Thomas Hardy's A Few Crusted Characters (full text available online), which is essentially a collection of short stories or vignettes loosely bound together by a framing story. ...