Maurice Sendak’s Literary Influences: Wild Things!

Maurice Sendak, now in his seventies, has long been a classic favourite figure in the world of children’s literature and illustration. His fame skyrocketed following the release of his book, Where the Wild Things Are.

Sendak was born to Polish Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York. At a very young age, he was captivated by the animation in Disney’s Fantasia, and it was exactly that movie that inspired Sendak to become an illustrator. Over the years, he also expanded his line of work to include authoring numerous books, producing an animated TV series, and designed lavish sets for several operas and ballets, including the award-winning production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

A voracious reader, Sendak cites a vast number of influences in his work, ranging from painters to musicians and authors. Possibly the earliest and most lasting influence was none other than his father, Philip Sendak, who used to spin fantastic tales about the ill fates met by relatives in the old country. Beyond that, he used to even embellish stories from the Bible, into racy versions that were quite inappropriate for children. More than once, Sendak was sent home for innocently retelling these stories at school.

As he grew up, Sendak discovered other sources of inspiration. He calls Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, “a genius”, while Emily Dickinson also ranks high up on his list for her passionate writing. Mozart also provides a great sense of calm, as Sendak explains, “I know that if there’s a purpose for life, it was for me to hear Mozart.”

Most recently, Where the Wild Things Are has been produced as a full-length feature film, capturing scores of young new fans across the world. The special effects and 3D animation stay quite true to his original illustrations, and it will appeal even to older fans.

Read more about Maurice Sendak’s influences on his Infloox page here, and watch an interview with him below:

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5 Comments on “Maurice Sendak’s Literary Influences: Wild Things!”


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