Archive for the ‘literary’ category

Hollywood vs. Lewis Carroll with “Alice in Wonderland”

March 12, 2010

Tim Burton’s extension of Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic, Alice in Wonderland, is sweeping across theatres and garnering rave reviews. It certainly did catch our attention too, and made me wonder about the link of influences upon artists.

Lewis Carroll has traditionally been a major influence within the English-speaking world, no doubt because in some way or another, we have all encountered his works from an early age. Even Queen Victoria was a fan! But by far, it was Alice in Wonderland that garnered the most attention across the board, ranging from Tolkien to Bette Middler.

Carroll wrote during the mid-1800s, but his work was so fantastical that even now in 2010, it remains timeless and accessible. His influence on Tim Burton is quite plain to see in Burton’s latest blockbuster, which casts Alice as a grown-up version of herself. Joining Tim Burton is music composer Danny Elfman, who he commonly collaborates with, as well as actors Johnny Depp (in which will now be his seventh film with Burton) and Helena Bonham-Carter (Burton’s romantic partner whom he now has a son with), who has also worked in a numer of Burton’s films. The influence on each other is constant, each artist feeding off the other’s works. Ultimately, it remains to be seen what future spark of inspiration this latest vision of Alice might create in someone else.

Want to know more? Visit the infloox site to see how many other inter-artist connections you can find.

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Anne Rice releasing video book

February 12, 2010

Love her or hate her, most people have something to say about Anne Rice. She has recently announced that she will be releasing a video book for her story, The Master of Rampling Gate, published in 1984. Older fans will no doubt be intrigued by the return to her earlier works.

At the height of her career when her Vampire Chronicles had turned her into a star, Rice suddenly switched gears. Struck by the death of her daughter Michele, she turned in on herself and started exploring religion. Despite the fact that Rice had previously lived as an atheist, she returned to Catholicism. This massive change was not lost in her work either. Vampires gradually gave way to historical religious fiction, and fans began to change their minds as well. Unfortunately Rice did receive a lot of negative feedback from the press about her new direction but claims that she is happy exploring this other aspect of good versus evil.

The new Rice videobook will essentially be a multimedia book, combining text with video snippets, and is slated for a March 1st release date.

Are you a fan of Anne Rice? Head over to her infloox page to add what you know about her literary influences or people she has influenced.

Remembering Paul Quarrington, a fixture in the CanLit scene

January 21, 2010

paul quarringtonEarlier today marked the sad passing of Paul Quarrington, a key figure in Canada’s literary scene. Most of you may have heard of him in association with his best known novels, Whale Music (which was also released as a film by the same name) and King Leary. For over three decades, Quarrington had delved into the world of novels, screenwriting, filmmaking and music. In addition to this, he played a prime role in a number of Canadian literary organisations and major events.

Since this blog is primarily related to exploring people’s influences and inspirations, in essence finding out exactly what makes them tick, I set out to research Quarrington’s own favourite authors. Being so heavily involved with the lit scene, it was no surprise to find that a lot of his literary influences were also acquaintances. For example, of Timothy Findley‘s novel, Not Wanted on the Voyage, Quarrington reviewed it as “a dazzling display of literary thaumaturgy, magic in its purest sense…”. By the same token, Findley once publicly described him as “an extraordinary writer with a rare gift.”Whale Music by Paul Quarrington

From a young age, Quarrington was also a massive fan of many different types of music. This passion wrote itself into a lot of his work, as is evident by Penthouse Magazine’s review of Whale Music, describing it as “the greatest rock’n’roll novel ever written.” Quarrington often cited The Beatles as well as various blues as influences. And of course he stayed true to his fellow Canadian artists too, writing that Leonard Cohen produced “the highest level of poetic craftsmanship” in his works.

Looking through his website, I was amazed by the sheer number of written and video tributes that have come pouring in from around the country. Pick up one of his books if you have a chance and join us this week in remembering Paul Quarrington.

Celebrating Albert Camus

January 12, 2010

When people speak of existentialism philosophy, often one of the first names to spring to mind is that of Albert Camus. And no wonder! He was one of the leading figures in the field, not to mention a  Nobel Prize winner. So then it might seem slightly odd that he strongly rejected this label, saying, “No, I am not an existentialist. [Jean-Paul] Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked…” Where most people get confused is by the fact that Camus’ work had a closer connection with the rise of absurdism instead.

Just last week we remembered the 50th anniversary of Camus’ death, and in his wake he has left us with a wealth of philosophical and literary riches. Apart from the usual suspects that we’ve all come to expect in Camus’ list of influences, one that many people overlook is that of Saint Augustine of Hippo. In his studies, Camus had written a thesis focusing on the relationship between Greek and Christian schools of thought by comparing the writing of Plotnius and Augustine. It is important to note that while Camus publicly declared himself to be atheist, he was so influenced by the works of Augustine, that he came to accept that a “natural desire” for God and his salvation was normal in all people, himself included. To read more on this, have a look through his infloox page.

And for a little dose of humour, does anyone recall the field day that journalists had when they discovered that George Bush was toting around a copy of The Stranger while on holiday at his ranch in Texas? One spokesman had mentioned that Bush had “found it an interesting book and a quick read” and that he went on to briefly discuss the origins of existentialism with his aides. Take that as you will 😉

Leonard Cohen: a world of influences

January 5, 2010

As a follow-up to our last blog post, and in light of the recent “music influences” additions to the Infloox site, I thought I’d look into the influences of Leonard Cohen.

Since starting out as a poet in Montreal in the 50s, Cohen has lead a tumultous yet very interesting life.  He lived through one of the strongest musical periods that we’ve ever known, so it is no wonder that he was influenced by and in turn has influenced so many people.  His earliest works were poetry and prose, and here he found inspiration in the works of W. B. Yeats, Lord Byron and Henry Miller, to name a few. While some may assume that only musicians influence musicians, and likewise for authors of fiction, we can see here that it is not so. These literary  influences stayed with Cohen even later on, showing a strong impact on the unique song lyrics that he has come to be so well known for.

During the 60s and 70s, when Cohen started to make his mark as a singer-songwriter, he found himself spending more time soaking up inspiration from the other musicians and icons around him. Andy Warhol’s Factory Crowd became a new hang-out, and Warhol wondered once that the German singer/model, Nico, likely had a resounding impact on the music Cohen later went on to write. At the same time, he also had strong roots in the traditional European folk music that his ancestors had grown up with.

Around the same time, another songwriter was making waves: one Robert Allen Zimmerman, better known now as Bob Dylan. Dylan and Cohen had met each other and identifying with each other as they both came from strong Jewish backgrounds, found that over time they both started to influence each others’ work. So much so, that Dylan later covered a number of Cohen’s songs as a tribute to him.

Fast-forward to today and we can see that this massive mix of influences has definitely served Cohen well. With several awards and Hall of Fame inductions under his belt, he has certainly done well for himself. Perhaps we can all learn from this that influences do not necessarily have to come from just one source or one genre. Too often as writers, we get trapped in browsing through only the genre we’re writing. Head over to Infloox and lose yourself for a while by finding out where some of your favourite authors culled their inspiration from!

Charles Dickens, Christmas and the power of connectedness

December 23, 2009

I recently came across an article online that talked about our social networks and how incredibly influential the people around you are, even if you don’t realise it. Here at Infloox, this is exactly what we focus on,  bringing these connections to light. More so, we dissect the influence of books (and even music!) on people, since these works stay around long after the creator has passed on.

Since Christmas is right around the corner, let’s take a look at Charles Dickens and his beloved classic, A Christmas Carol. Originally published quickly in 1843 to cover the expenses of his wife’s fifth pregnancy, the book went on to become one of Dickens’ most well-known tales. So much so, that it is this work that made the common phrase “Merry Christmas” popular in modern culture, as well as the term “Scrooge” to mean a miser and the catchphrase, “Bah Humbug!”. One historian even claimed that, “the current state of the observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday spearheaded by A Christmas Carol.”

But where did Dickens himself derive the inspiration and influences to come up with such a unique story? As with many authors, a large part of it can be attributed to the books and stories Dickens read as a child. Even something as far removed as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Robinson Crusoe made its way in, as he brought in that influence in the beginning of his story. We learn that in Victorian times, pantomimes were extremely popular, and Dickens refers directly to this in his Christmas story.

For aspiring writers, take a good look at the books on your bookshelf, because chances are those very ones will somehow work their way into your own writing. Perhaps it might be subconscious, or other times deliberate, but as we can see, it isn’t only our social networks that guide and shape the way we develop, but also works of literature, no matter how old or new.

This year’s publishing sensation – fairytales do happen

October 15, 2009

Although Audrey Niffenegger had originally published her first novel in 2003, she has found a whole new wave of fans this year following a movie adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Originally an artist and a professor, Niffenegger had an idea to create a graphic novel that portrayed the tale of a simple man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel, and his wife who has to deal with his frequent and sometimes dangerous disappearances. While thinking about it, Niffeneger realised that it was tough to convey time travel through images, and decided to write it as a novel instead. The inital release was relatively small, but once the book was mentioned and endorsed by a fellow author and family friend on The Today Show, Niffenegger’s name soared on the bestseller lists. It wasn’t long before the film production company owned by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston picked up the rights to adapt the novel for the big screen.

So where does an artist derives enough literary influence from in order to create such a massively bestselling first novel? It seems that the answer is actually quite varied. Amongst her favourites, Niffenegger names Tolkien, Poe and Anne Rice as a few that she constantly returns to over the years. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is a delight for her “essentially atheist nature,” while authors like Richard Powers and Dorothy L. Sayers were crucial in influencing The Time Traveler’s Wife. More recently, Niffenegger has been working on a second novel, titled Her Fearful Symmetry. Set in the Victorian era, Niffenegger is grateful to the author Henry James, a key figure in 19th century literature.  Read more about Niffenegger’s writing style and influences on Infloox.