Non­fic­tion be­hind clas­sics of f ic­tion

Not­ing links be­tween nov­els, books their au­thors drew from

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - BOOKS - By Hil­lel Italie As­so­ci­ated Press New York ▶

Be­hind ev­ery great book are the books which in­flu­enced it. The “mi­cro-learn­ing” app and plat­form Blinkist. com has been com­pil­ing lit­er­ary sources for such clas­sics as “A Clock­work Or­ange,”

“Oliver Twist” and “1984.” Mary Shel­ley’s “Franken­stein” was in­spired by each of her par­ents — Wil­liam God­win’s “An En­quiry Con­cern­ing Po­lit­i­cal Jus­tice” and Mary Woll­stonecraft’s “A Vin­di­ca­tion of the Rights of Women.”

One of the defin­ing nov­els of the Civil War era, Har­riet Beecher Stowe’s “Un­cle Tom’s Cabin,” drew in part upon one of the defin­ing slave mem­oirs, “The Nar­ra­tive of the Life of Frederick Dou­glass, an Amer­i­can Slave.” Dou­glass’ book, which re­mains stan­dard read­ing in many schools, also was cited by Toni Mor­ri­son for her Pulitzer Prize-win­ning his­tor­i­cal novel “Beloved.”

“We were notic­ing the at­ten­tion around the 200th an­niver­sary of ‘Franken­stein’ and got to think­ing about the non­fic­tion works which help au­thors of fic­tion,” says Blinkist writer-ed­i­tor Tom Anderson. “We think of those books as the un­sung he­roes.”

Charles Dick­ens’ por­trait of ex­treme wealth and poverty in London in “Oliver Twist” was in part mod­eled on Ed­ward Gib­bon’s “The His­tory of the De­cline and Fall of the Ro­man Em­pire.” An­thony Burgess drew upon fic­tion and non­fic­tion for his ter­ri­fy­ing “A Clock­work Or­ange,” his sources in­clud­ing Al­dous Hux­ley’s fu­tur­is­tic clas­sic “Brave New World” and B.F. Skin­ner’s land­mark of psy­chol­ogy “Sci­ence and Hu­man Be­hav­ior.”

Tol­stoy’s “War and Peace” re­flected the au­thor’s read­ing of the phi- los­o­phy of Arthur Schopen- hauer, along with works about Napoleon and French his­tory. Ac­cord­ing to Tol­stoy scholar

Ani Kokobobo, the au­thor was “cap­ti­vated” by Schopen­hauer and his be­lief that “death is the only re­al­ity,” a view­point ex­pressed by the cere­bral Prince An­drei Niko­layevich Bolkon­sky in “War and Peace.” Kokobobo also noted that “War and Peace” was a re­sponse in part to French schol­ar­ship that Tol­stoy be­lieved ex­ag­ger­ated Napoleon’s stature and mil­i­tary ideas.

“Tol­stoy did not be­lieve in this ‘great man’ the­ory ... and thought that vic­tory and de­feat were not de­ter­mined by a sole heroic leader, but rather by the col­lec­tive align­ment of the will of thou­sands,” said Kokobobo, ed­i­tor of the Tol­stoy Stud­ies Jour­nal.

Ge­orge Or­well’s “1984,” the dystopian po­lit­i­cal novel, re­flects in part the Bri­tish au­thor’s read­ing of two non­fic­tion stud­ies: James Burn­ham’s “The Man­age­rial Revo­lu­tion” and Hal­ford Mackinder’s “Demo­cratic Ideals and Re­al­ity: A Study in the Pol­i­tics of Re­con­struc­tion.”

Or­well So­ci­ety com­mit­tee mem­ber Les Hurst said that “1984” shows how Or­well adapted the ideas of oth­ers to his own.

“The Mackinder book sat in Or­well’s mind for sev­eral years,” Hurst said. “Or­well was ... able to ex­tend Burn­ham’s con­cepts of power and power wor­ship and to take ideals of geopol­i­tics and per­form this great imag­i­na­tive leap.”

8 Books Cal­en­dar.

Knopf / Signet Clas­sics via As­so­ci­ated Press

Tol­stoy’s “War and Peace” re­flected the au­thor’s read­ing of the phi­los­o­phy of Arthur Schopen­hauer, along with works about Napoleon and French his­tory. Or­well’s “1984” re­flects in part the Bri­tish au­thor’s read­ing of James Burn­ham’s “The Man­age­rial Revo­lu­tion” and Hal­ford Mackinder’s “Demo­cratic Ideals and Re­al­ity: A Study in the Pol­i­tics of Re­con­struc­tion.”

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