Ideas behind There There: Literature Jan 6, 2014

by Erin

You might not see them right away (or at all!), but they're there: some of the inspirations that went into the making of There There.

Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters is an obvious reference, especially Captain Vassily Vasilyevich Solyony, an obnoxious sociopath who always says the wrong thing at the wrong time. This play is incredibly famous and tons of artists reference it. Read the entire play online or at least skim the Wikipedia entry.

Mikhail Lermontov was a painter, a writer, a major influence on Russian literature, and probably the most imporant Russian poet besides Pushkin. The preface to A Hero of Our Time (1839) explains the author's idea of his character: "A Hero of Our Time, my dear readers, is indeed a portrait, but not of one man. It is a portrait built up of all our generation's vices in full bloom. You will again tell me that a human being cannot be so wicked, and I will reply that if you can believe in the existence of all the villains of tragedy and romance, why wouldn't believe that there was a Pechorin? If you could admire far more terrifying and repulsive types, why aren't you more merciful to this character, even if it is fictitious? Isn't it because there's more truth in it than you might wish?"

Nikolai Gogol (1809 – 1852) was a Ukranian-born dramatist, novelist, and short story writer. Taras Bulba is one of his best-known works. When you read the book, you'll see why: it has Cossack fights, love, familial betrayal, and murder (lots of it).

Mrs. Dalloway: Virginia Woolf's beautiful novel about a day in the life of a society woman in post-WWI England. Its stream-of-consciousness style allows the reader to enter the mind of protagonist Clarissa Dalloway. Maybe there are some stylistic parallels with There There?

Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot: one of the great writer's most brilliant works. This line from Wikipedia sums it up nicely: "Unfortunately, Myshkin's very goodness precipitates disaster, leaving the impression that, in a world obsessed with money, power, and sexual conquest, a sanatorium may be the only place for a saint."

Roger Shattuck was a 20th century American writer best known for his books on French literature, art, and music of the twentieth century. The Banquet Years deals with the origins of the avant-garde in France from 1885 to WWI. Pages 13 – 16 were of particular inspiration to Kristen. Get the book and find out for yourself.