Since its inception, TDS has followed in the footsteps of our founding fathers: Edgar Allan Poe (Gothic), Mary Shelley (Horror), J. R. R. Tolkien (Fantasy), and Fyordor Dostoevsky (Psychological Realism). If these literary geniuses and genre pioneers influence TDS and our authors…who inspired them?
“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
― Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is, arguably, known as one of the first writers to dabble in what would become known as the short story. But, who influenced Poe on his path as a poet and author? The most notable of Poe’s influences were Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Poe often mimicked the lyricism of British poet, Coleridge. As a young writer, Poe wrote in Byronic style, inspired by the European poet, Lord Byron. The majority of these poems are considered Romanticism and are not immediately identifiable as Poe’s works, even to devout fans.
In addition, Poe had another well-known influence for his writing and she just so happens to be another of our “founding fathers.” None other than Mary Shelley. Her sole popular poem is said by her biographer to be incorporated directly into Poe’s To One in Paradise. Shelley and Poe also shared a muse in Lord Byron.
“The beginning is always today.”
― Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s own life would have served as enough of an influence to pen horror for most writers. To take it a step further, Frankenstein was inspired by a horrible nightmare she had on holiday with her future husband in The Year Without a Summer (1816).
Certainly these things had an effect on Shelley’s writing, but such writers as Lord Byron, John Milton, and her own father, William Godwin, inspired the First Lady of Horror.
Milton, in particular, had quite an effect on Shelley. His works such as The Modern Prometheus and Paradise Lost explored themes of creation and the fall of man. Themes that are incredibly prevalent in Frankenstein.
“Never laugh at live dragons.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien was a master of mythology. He studied Germanic, Celtic, Slavic, Greek, and Finnish folklore and mythology, by which he was heavily influenced.
Tolkien was also famously friends with C.S. Lewis. Both authors influenced and supported each other’s work, their faith an underlying theme of their writing.
Some of Tolkein’s other influences were Beowulf, William Morris’ Roots of the Mountains, as well as novelists and poets Andrew Lang and Edith Nesbit.
“The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he’s in prison.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoyevsky was himself inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, though he also gleaned much from Charles Dickens, Pushkin, and Nikolai Gogol. Most notably, Gogol’s short story, The Overcoat.
An interesting influence of Dostoevsky’s came when the writer found himself in exile. In the 1840’s, he began attending meetings held by the Petrashevsky Circle. This group of people became known as “social realists.” Eventually, Dostoevsky found the group to be not political enough, and he joined another group called Speshnev’s Secret Revolutionary Society.
In 1849, both of these groups’ members were arrested and held in a maximum security prison in Serbia. During this time, the only literature Dostoevsky was given access to was the Bible. Like any other writer given only one book, he devoured, dissected, and studied it. Unsurprisingly, this heavily influenced his future works.
With a look into the muses of TDS‘ own influences, we hope you’ve found a few more writers to enjoy and inspire your own works. If you’re an author yourself, be sure to submit your works for consideration. If you’re a reader, check out our current and past issues.
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