Tuesday, September 3, 2013

15 Famed Literature Titles Taken from Other Artists

Over the years I have heard complaints about contemporary art/entertainment being lazily drenched with references to previous works of art. I have heard this complaint come from my own mouth. The formula for book titles now is to take a famous title and change one word in it; usually in an ironic way. So much TV comedy relies on parodies of famous film and TV references. Maybe this started with the archival/repetitive nature of TV - seeing the same episodes, commercials, and movies rising again and again from the TV Netherworld - and accelerated with the resurrection of everything via the Internet. You're headbutted with the same clips so many times your mind can't help but think of a reference before conjuring something more original.

It is a tendency that is often odious, but we should remember how many classic works of art used references unironically. Think of all the book titles taken from Shakespeare:
 
Brave New World
Pale Fire
Remembrance of Things Past (not Proust's preferred title, evidently).
The Sound and the Fury

Or the Bible:

House of Mirth
The Sun Also Rises
The Violent Bear It Away

The Bible isn't the only religious text used for inspiration:

The Razor's Edge: The Katha Upanishad

Poetry has also given us plenty of fodder for book titles:

Tender Is the Night: Keats

Look Homeward, Angel: Milton
 
As I Lay Dying: Homer

Things Fall Apart: Yeats

And some poems reference other poems:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Dunbar

Some more random sources of inspiration:

The Grapes of Wrath: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"

All the King's Men: Humpty Dumpty
 
Previously, artists referenced previous works word for word, with gravitas as the goal. Today, artists typically reference a previous work with irony in mind. Maybe the real problem isn't references in and of themselves, but rather irony overload. I'll drink to that.


Shakespeare got his lines from my Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/greatMikePayne

No comments: