Join 3,436 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


What are the great patterning works of literature?
September 17, 2009 9:39 AM   Subscribe

What are the great patterning works of literature? In Book by Book, Michael Dirda presents a list of what he calls “patterning works” which he describes as books that “. . later authors regularly build on, allude to, work against.” and which he says “ . . . ought to lie at the heart of any structured reading program.”

I'm not entirely satisfied with his list, although I have to say that I don't have a rich enough background in the history of literature to be able to refute his claims effectively. Perhaps some of you all might be able to help me. Here it is:

The Bible (Old and New Testament)
Bullfinch's Mythology (or any other accounts of the Greek, Roman and Norse myths)
Iliad
Odyssey
Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans
Dante, Inferno
The Arabian Nights
Thomas Malory, Le Morte D'Arthur
Shakespeare, especially the major works such as Hamlet, Henry IV, part one, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Tempest
Cervantes, Don Quixote
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Jonathan Swift: Gulliver's Travels
Fairy Tales of Brothers Grimm
Any substantial collection of the world's major folktales
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice
Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

How would you change this list, if at all? Are there great patterning works that he's missed entirely? If so, what sort of influence did they have and on which authors? Are any of these works overrated and not as influential as he claims? Or is this actually a pretty good list, one that needs no change at all? As always, many thanks in advance.

P.S. If you know of any good folktale compilations, feel free to recommend them here. Thanks!
posted by jason's_planet to Writing & Language (73 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
Paradise Lost, by Milton

What specific translation of the bible? I would say the KJV has had a huge impact on literature as compared to other translations...but I am not the most knowledgeable so take that with a grain of salt.
posted by kathrineg at 9:41 AM on September 17, 2009


Proust
posted by RichardS at 9:53 AM on September 17, 2009


How would you change this list, if at all? Are there great patterning works that he's missed entirely?

The list seems pretty Euro-centric. There are many major classics from other regions such as China that are not included.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:55 AM on September 17, 2009


It's an awfully Western list. I would think that The Journey to the West, The Ramayana, and other works out of Asia have a place there, too, even if you are only thinking of their effect on the West. Also, I would have to put in À la Recherche du Temps Perdu and The Tale of Genji just out of loyalty.

And in the time it took me to write that...
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:58 AM on September 17, 2009


kathrineg: He does actually recommend the King James Version.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:58 AM on September 17, 2009


Moby Dick.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:04 AM on September 17, 2009


On the American side of things, I'd definitely add Moby Dick and Song of Myself (just quickly off the top of my head).
posted by trox at 10:06 AM on September 17, 2009


That is to say, I'd add it to the list. Most likely some Dickens too, though I'm not Dickens-conversant.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:06 AM on September 17, 2009


Off the top I'd add Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (or the Decameron by Bocaccio, which was the frame upon which the CT were built).
LOTR is certainly a relatively contemporary contender as well.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:07 AM on September 17, 2009


I wouldn't add Proust to the list. I've read through his novel twice, and I love it. It's certainly a major work. But: 1) It's a bit modern (under 100 years old) to stand up as a pattern book; and, 2) I know of few books actually patterned from it.

This is a fairly fiction specific list, which I guess makes sense. Even so, I'd probably add Herodotus.
posted by OmieWise at 10:10 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Milton certainly. Maybe Poe.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:13 AM on September 17, 2009


I think Gilgamesh should be in there, too, and I'd want to specifically include Ovid's Metamorphoses. And you need some Aeschylus and some Sophocles. Surely "Prometheus Bound" and "Oedipus Rex" are patterning works.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:16 AM on September 17, 2009


Kafka and Joyce are two 20th century writers that I think have earned their place on that list.
posted by milarepa at 10:25 AM on September 17, 2009


Catcher in the Rye, whatever you might think of it, kind of invented modern youth literature.
Certainly a few Greek dramas influenced later Western lit, especially once you get to the Existentials-- Euripides's Bacchae and Sophocles's Oedipus Cycle come to mind.

Lucan's Pharsalia and Lawrence Sterne's Tristram Shandy are, in my mind, modernist works each written well before modernism existed.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:32 AM on September 17, 2009


No love for the Russians? War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment and a few others probably belong on the list.
posted by Quietgal at 10:37 AM on September 17, 2009


Aren't you really just asking for the Western Canon? Its organizing principle is "most influential," which seems to mesh pretty well with your question, though you seem to have included a slight "for writers" bent. I would argue that writing is a subset of expression influenced by these works, and as such does not have a subset canon that would hold some books of the canon less useful for writerly purposes. Just sayin'.

Also, there are eastern/world approaches here.
posted by rhizome at 10:40 AM on September 17, 2009


Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews pretty much laid the foundations of the modern novel--it was the first of its kind, the first work most of us woulld recognize as looking like what a "novel" looks like. Then again, it built on Don Quixote, cementing the (erroneous) image of the Don as a lovable eccentric.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:41 AM on September 17, 2009


I'm not sure people are understanding the question. This is not about the Greatest Works of All Time, this is specifically about "patterning works." Name me some authors who have patterned their works on the model of Proust, Moby Dick, or Paradise Lost.

As others have said, the list is ridiculously limited. For Russian literature, you'd need at a minimum Pushkin's Tales of Belkin (not Eugene Onegin, which nobody used as a model), Lermontov's Hero of Our Time, Gogol's Dead Souls, Turgenev's A Sportsman's Sketches, Sergei Aksakov's Family Chronicle, Dostoevsky's Notes from the Dead House, Bely's Petersburg, Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, Venedikt Erofeef's Moskva-Petushki, and whatever stories one considers most influential by Chekhov, Zoshchenko, and Kharms.

Interesting question.
posted by languagehat at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


> Venedikt Erofeef

Erofeev, I mean. *slaps selv*

posted by languagehat at 10:48 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


For modern war fiction, Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October" has been emulated ad nauseum. That's not exactly classical lit, but the shifting viewpoint, copious technical details, and date/location headings in Clancy's books became the template.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:53 AM on September 17, 2009


Is it meant to be
(1) works that are alluded to, parodied, etc (that is, the writer of the later work assumes the audience is familiar with the earlier work and will recognize the later work as a reference to it), or
(2) works that inaugurate a genre/sub-genre/plot-type that later writers work with (the later works aren't referring to the earlier work, they're just doing their own riff on detective story, for example)?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:57 AM on September 17, 2009


This hs tunred into a list of outstanding (or so believed) books rather than what had been asked for. In either case: Huckleberry Finn
posted by Postroad at 11:00 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten: More along the lines of 1 -- works that later authors allude to, although 2 is helpful as well -- the dialogue has to start somewhere.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:01 AM on September 17, 2009


This isn't a Eurocentric list as a hopelessly parochial Anglophone list (and he still leaves off some thunderingly obvious ones, like Aphra Behn's Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister, which developed the epistolary novel form, though an argument could be made that Samuel Richardson's Clarissa is the "patterning work" that later authors follow).

Others have suggested many good examples but let me throw in the Icelandic sagas. Very influential stylistically, formally both in Iceland and elsewhere, and get referenced constantly in Icelandic literature, quite often in Scandinavian literature and occasionally in world literature. Here are a few ones that I think fit the idea of a "patterning work."

Flaubert's Madame Bovary.
Byron's Don Juan.
Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Bram Stoker's Dracula.
posted by Kattullus at 11:03 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Postroad and languagehat are both right on the money.

I wasn't asking for The Greatest Books Of All Time; I was asking for patterning works, for books that later authors feel compelled to respond to, allude to, parody, etc.

That's what I meant by the question.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:04 AM on September 17, 2009


Along with Tale of Genji, I might add Tale of the 47 Ronin.
posted by hue at 11:06 AM on September 17, 2009


In drama, pretty much all the best-known Greek plays have been reworked extensively. And Shakespeare, of course, both gets rewrites and provides patterns. But I'd bet the Mahabharata and Ramayana have inspired the most derivative works.
posted by Mngo at 11:09 AM on September 17, 2009


I'd put Rousseau's Emile and Confessions over Proust. They're the model for most modern biography and autobiography, Rousseau's philosophy was hugely influential — and the combination of the two, the whole bildungsroman thing where you tell someone's life story in order to present and justify their philosophy, is really crucial for 19th and 20th century literature. I'd add Voltaire's Candide for the same reason. They lead to all the classic story-of-a-sensitive-young-dude books — David Copperfield, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Siddhartha, Catcher in the Rye — but also to things like Invisible Man and Ender's Game and every single superhero origin story ever written. (Batman started out innocent, and only grew a harsh conscience and got all dark and crime-fighty through experience in a corrupt society? That right there is pure Rousseau.)

I'd also take Poe over Arthur Conan Doyle, especially if we're going for early and widely-imitated. Murders in the Rue Morgue gives the pattern for the Sherlock Holmes stories, and his other stories were formative influences on sci-fi, fantasy, horror and so on. You really can't understand any modern genre fiction without Poe. On the same grounds, I'll second OmieWise's suggestion of Herodotus, who's really the granddaddy of all sci-fi and adventure writers as well as one of the first historians.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:11 AM on September 17, 2009


The Wizard of Oz.
posted by Izner Myletze at 11:13 AM on September 17, 2009


Beowulf could count, right?

Sooo . . . am I allowed to say Superman? because that patterned most comic literature, or the comic literature was conversely patterned against it.
posted by Think_Long at 11:18 AM on September 17, 2009


Without consideration of the merits of the genre, I would also suggest that C.S. Forester's Hornblower series has been used as a framework for enough subsequent works to be included.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:24 AM on September 17, 2009


Name me some authors who have patterned their works on the model of Proust, Moby Dick, or Paradise Lost.

You've got me on Moby Dick. Proust, however, yielded Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, and Paradise Lost is the prime mover behind William Wordsworth's The Prelude. (It also heavily influenced English Romantic poetry and fiction more generally, Frankenstein included.)

Some other works that should fit jason_planet's bill:

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (there are multiple direct responses to it in the 19th c., including Bronte's own Villette, and it has inspired imitations and reworkings right down to the present day)

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, and Great Expectations (as far as I can tell, people have always wanted to respond to short(er) Dickens. Huh! Can't think why ;) )

Sir Walter Scott, Waverley and The Heart of Midlothian (as many literary historians have pointed out, a good chunk of the19th-c. Anglo-American and Continental novel tradition is patterned directly after Scott, with these two imitated on a frequent basis)

The one-two punch of Marlowe's Dr. Faustus and Goethe's Faust (these two make the Faust legend for the modern period, and my goodness, Faust knockoffs are everywhere)

R. L. Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (right up there w/Frankenstein and Dracula in terms of later Gothic and horror)
posted by thomas j wise at 11:25 AM on September 17, 2009


Name me some authors who have patterned their works on the model of Proust, Moby Dick, or Paradise Lost.

But the definition of "patterned" is given as:

books that “. . later authors regularly build on, allude to, work against.” and which he says “ . . . ought to lie at the heart of any structured reading program.”


So, for Milton, I'd name everything from Frankenstein to Blood Meridian.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:26 AM on September 17, 2009


Name me some authors who have patterned their works on the model of Proust, Moby Dick, or Paradise Lost.

languagehat makes a good point overall, but I definitely think Paradise Lost should count as a patterning book. It was hugely important for all the Romantics, for a start, especially Blake, Byron, and Shelley. Even beyond the Romantics, Milton's verse paragraphs had a huge influence on English prosody.

It wasn't just just poetry, either. A.S. Byatt alludes to Milton pretty regularly in her fiction, and (to mention just one less "literary" author) Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy is fairly dripping with Miltonic themes and allusions. And those are just two recent authors I thought of immediately. There are sure to be more.

On preview, looks like Bookhouse beat me to it.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 11:27 AM on September 17, 2009


Faust / Dr. Faustus, although that did originate as a folk tale rather than an attributable work of fiction. In the same vein, "Cinderella" is a big one. The Wizard of Oz is usually the first modern work of this kind that comes to mind for me, as often as it's referenced by other works, mostly pop culture. I think Alice In Wonderland is another modern work that fits the bill. I'd keep all the ones on the original list, to address that part of your question.
posted by notashroom at 11:28 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Argh, please excuse my inclusion of Alice as a duplicate.
posted by notashroom at 11:31 AM on September 17, 2009


Of limited scope, but Lady Gregory's retelling of the old Irish myth Cuchulain of Muirthemne served as the basis for a number of works during the Irish Literary Revival, most notably plays and poems by WB Yeats. Joyce also takes a jab at it in Ulysses, so there you go.
posted by martens at 11:42 AM on September 17, 2009


it seems to me that Alejo Carpentier's The Kingdom Of This World should be considered a patterning book, if for no other reason than that it seems to have sparked what we consider to be "magical realism," especially among the latin and spanish authors who have popularized it. likewise, maybe, Gunter Grass for The Tin Drum from the saxon side of things.
posted by shmegegge at 11:47 AM on September 17, 2009


All of the "patterning" works I'm thinking of had impact only on contained genres, but with that disclaimer....

* A lot of theater was tremendously affected by the Italian commedia del arte, but you may not find any straight-up commedia stuff to READ as such. Commedia was sort of like the Renaissance version of improv sketch comedy -- there was a set group of stock characters (the miserly old man, the ditsy maiden, the young lovers, the clever-but-lazy servant, the bumbling peasants, etc.), and there were also a number of set bits of "schtick" performers learned how to do. There were no "scripts" -- instead, there were PLOTS that commedia teams would learn ("the young lovers are being prevented from marrying by the girl's miserly father. The young man's servant comes up with a scheme to help him, but he's too lazy to do it on his own and enlists the help of the bumbling peasants..."). Actors in commedia teams would always play the same stock character (i.e., Sid always plays the miser, Loretta always plays the shrewish wife, etc.), and for each performance, they'd pick one of the plots, the actors would dress up for their allotted stock characters, and they'd just improv the whole thing each time. Commedia's style and plots and techniques had a tremendous affect on comedy at that time, all throughout Europe -- a lot of Moliere and Shakespeare's comedies were inspired by, or even outright lifted from, Commedia plots (ever wonder why so many of Shakespeare's comedies seem to be set in Italy?).

* If you go even further back, a lot of commedia's stock characters and some of the plots were drawn from ancient Roman comedies, such as the Atellan farces. Interestingly, another contemporary work that was inspired by Atellan Farce was the musical A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.

* I'd agree with folklore, but want to especially reinforce the influence of Celtic Irish mythology on Irish literature of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Part of this was intentional, and politically motivated -- from about the 1870's/1880's up through 1916, there was a growing movement for Ireland to assert its own identity on a cultural front as well as on a political one. The artists and activists often worked hand-in-hand a lot of the time. So that's what drove a lot of Irish-born writers at the turn of the century to deliberately seek out and create or revive subject matters and literature that was unique unto Ireland -- often, this meant adapting early Celtic myths. Yeats did this a WHOLE hell of a lot, in particular, both in his plays and also in his poetry.

* The one single work I can think of that spread a lot was Don Juan.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:49 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If we're talking about LobsterMitten's #2, I'd propose that The Lord of the Rings has been imitated quite a lot, and pretty much invented the entire fantasy genre.
posted by jasondbarr at 11:50 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus. Could one of the mods fix that outrageously awful HTML in my comment there? I can't even figure out what happened.

This should be the PROPER link for A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:57 AM on September 17, 2009


Lu Xu wrote a 'A Brief History of Chinese Fiction' (中國小說史略 1925) in which he claims that Song 'storyteller's prompt books' (话本) provided a model for about 90 percent of China's (pre-modern) novels. For example, the 'Tripitaka's Search for the Buddhist Scriptures' provided a major source for Journey to the West.
posted by Abiezer at 12:04 PM on September 17, 2009


I wasn't asking for The Greatest Books Of All Time; I was asking for patterning works, for books that later authors feel compelled to respond to, allude to, parody, etc.

The thing is that the Western Canon is considered to be both of those things, and many people would say that the two things are identical. The greatest books of all time are defined as the ones that the most (or greatest) authors have felt compelled to respond to etc.
posted by goethean at 12:07 PM on September 17, 2009


Oops, that should be Lu Xun of course.
posted by Abiezer at 12:08 PM on September 17, 2009


I'm not sure people are understanding the question. This is not about the Greatest Works of All Time, this is specifically about "patterning works." Name me some authors who have patterned their works on the model of Proust, Moby Dick, or Paradise Lost.

Maybe I misunderstood the overall concept of "patterning," but it seems to me as if I see the influence Moby Dick everywhere I look, though perhaps it's a literary confirmation bias. I was thinking particularly of Under The Volcano, though. Less explicitly, the struggles with obsession, an indomitable foe, and the meditation on destiny that are at the heart of Melville seem to be grand themes he took on early that have been much expanded on in the 20th century. (I'm a high school dropout, so what I think about literature is probably more irrelevant than I think, but I didn't merely intend it as a "canonical work," but as one that's had a profound influence on literature)
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:24 PM on September 17, 2009


Oh, and if Hemingway wasn't thinking at all of Melville when he wrote The Old Man and the Sea, I'd be quite surprised, though it's been 25 years since I read it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:33 PM on September 17, 2009


Thomas More's Utopia
Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20000 Leagues Under the Sea
Aldous Huxley's Brave New World
H. G. Wells' The Time Machine and War of the Worlds

The foundations of the science fiction genre, but with an influence that reaches much further than that. I think one could make a good argument for more recent authors like Asimov and Heinlein, but there's the question of the test of time there.
posted by larkspur at 12:54 PM on September 17, 2009


I thought about science fiction, larkspur, but I can't think of any books that consciously refer back to a work of science fiction literature more recent than H. G. Wells, with perhaps the exception of Neuromancer (e.g. the opening line of Anansi Boys).
posted by Kattullus at 1:08 PM on September 17, 2009


Along the same lines as Milton's Paradise Lost, where, now that I've read it, I'm constantly noticing references to it in literature: John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. I actually would not consider it a classic or must-read, but you definitely see it pop up various places in Anglophone literature. I mean, "Slough of Despond" and "Vanity Fair"? Plus all of Jane Eyre, of course.
posted by clerestory at 1:42 PM on September 17, 2009


I would nth Jane Eyre. Many Gothic novels revolve around plot line of intelligent but unsure-of-herself heroine of limited means falling for dark, brooding lord of the manor. I'm not aware of anyone doing just this kind of tale before Charlotte Bronte or doing it as well.
posted by marsha56 at 1:43 PM on September 17, 2009


And loads of people have written neurotic, self-obsessed novels, a genre which, if not created by Proust, surely finds its greatest example in his book. It really is the mountain which anyone who wants to write autobiographical fiction has to climb.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:00 PM on September 17, 2009


In the same category as Wizard of Oz, maybe Peter Pan?

Horatio Alger stories
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:09 PM on September 17, 2009


> Byron's Don Juan.

Yes! Don Juan was a huge influence on early nineteenth-century heroic-romantic literature; it is, in fact, the main pattern for Eugene Onegin. And that brings to mind the now-forgotten Ossian cycle, which had an equally huge influence—early nineteenth-century German literature would be decimated without it.

People have mentioned Poe in general, but "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841) needs to be specifically named as the original template for the entire detective genre. There would be no Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, or Hercule Poirot without C. Auguste Dupin.

To everyone slapping me around for my careless dismissal of Paradise Lost, you're absolutely right. I haven't read much of it, don't enjoy the genre, and should never have brought it up in the first place.
posted by languagehat at 2:10 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Forget Rousseau: the first Confessions were Augustine's, and that's a patterning work that launched a sacrament.

George Eliot's Middlemarch inaugurates a very different kind of Victorian fiction than Pride and Prejudice, I think.

Either Joyce's Ulysses or T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land deserve credit for inaugurating the paradigm of literary modernism as seeking out and emulating literary patterning works, especially in obscure or surprising ways, so that's something.

Marlowe's Faust.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:31 PM on September 17, 2009


George Eliot's Middlemarch inaugurates a very different kind of Victorian fiction than Pride and Prejudice, I think.

Could you elaborate on that a little bit more? How are these two different? In what way?
posted by jason's_planet at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2009


Definitely Poe, as languagehat (and others) says regarding the whole detective genre. Dupin has been copied and adapted too many times to count, even thinking of something as modern as Monk (on tv) follows this tradition of the brilliant but eccentric detective. Not just the character, but the method of investigation.

Beyond detective stories, Poe's gothic horror stories could also be considered pattern stories, specifically something like "The Fall of the House of Usher." He explores psychological rather than external horror, and I believe his take on such was new and unique.
posted by JenMarie at 2:39 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Name me some authors who have patterned their works on the model of Proust, Moby Dick, or Paradise Lost.

Nicholas Meyer. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is heavily influenced by Moby Dick.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:41 PM on September 17, 2009


I'm not sure if there's widespread compulsion to respond to it per se, but Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's 'In a Grove' (the story that Kurosawa's Rashomon was based on) certainly comes to mind.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:07 PM on September 17, 2009


From India: the Mahabharatha fits the bill. More than the Ramayana, in my opinion.
posted by dhruva at 4:02 PM on September 17, 2009


Could you elaborate on that a little bit more? How are these two different? In what way?

P&P is social satire with a traditional heroine whose fate is wish-fulfilling: it pokes gentle fun at the bourgeoisie but ultimately approves of their goals. Middlemarch is a social critique that takes the life of a small village as its protagonist, with a disappointing end for its putative heroine: Dorothea is a potential saint hampered by a culture of patriarchy from achieving greatness, and only settles for bourgeois happiness as the next best thing.

Arguable it's the basis for novels like Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio and other attempts to tell place-centric fiction, which is a departure from the standard novel form. It's also possibly a major influence on Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:19 PM on September 17, 2009


From India: the Mahabharatha fits the bill. More than the Ramayana, in my opinion.

Why is the Mahabharata more influential? Why do you believe this?
posted by jason's_planet at 5:15 PM on September 17, 2009


GenjiandProust, your criticism is entirely on-point. It is a very Eurocentric list. So could you expand a little bit on the influence those non-Western authors have had, both on Western lit and at home?
posted by jason's_planet at 5:29 PM on September 17, 2009


It occurs to me that this list is not only very Western, as has been pointed out, but also very heterocentric. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall is a seminal work in queer literature and set a pattern that has been repeated time and again since then.
posted by notashroom at 8:17 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Narnia Chronicles were part of the plot of The Bridge to Terabithia. The two main characters dressed up and pretended to be the king and queen of Narnia. I've seen the Narnia Chronicles mentioned in other works but can't think of any off the top of my head.
posted by tamitang at 11:32 PM on September 17, 2009


Much 20th century latinamerican (and other) literature is patterned on or responds to García Márquez' "100 Years of Solitude", e.g. early Isabel Allende and Ángeles Mastretta.
posted by signal at 8:10 AM on September 18, 2009


To clarify, 100 Years... is not the originator but in a sense the model of magical realism, stories based in realistic regional settings with 'magical' events interwoven into everyday tales of poverty, political corruption, families, love and sex.
posted by signal at 8:14 AM on September 18, 2009


I will add

'Treasure Island'
'Ivanhoe'
'Robin Hood'
'Tristram Shandy'
'James Bond 007'
'The Guns of Navarone'
'The Bonfire of the Vanities'

The list OP mentions is not only very western, it's also pretty high brow. Maybe it's the MeFi crowd, but there's a lot of escapist fiction that influenced tons and tons of escapist fiction.
posted by OctopusRex at 12:03 PM on September 18, 2009


The list OP mentions is not only very western, it's also pretty high brow.

That's pretty congruent with where I want to take my own reading, but thank you all the same for sharing your suggestions.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:09 PM on September 18, 2009


Re: the mahabharatha
Well for one there are innumerable references to the Mahabharatha in fiction, not only in books (entire books have been written looking at the Mahabharatha from a different point of view (example: Parva by the Kannada writer Bhairappa), also by using the events in the epic as a foil for contemporary politics in India (example: The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor)) but also in movies and tv shows, where references are often made to the Mahabharatha, and crucial plot elements are understood only in light of knowing the epic (example Jaane bhi do yaaro, a hindi film where the protagonists burst into a theatre where the MB is taking place, and well the scene is funny only if you know the epic).

Anyway, I think by virtue of the fact that the Mahabharatha is much longer than the Ramayana, and because it is basically a series of interlocking stories with much more complexity, it is referred to more. While the Ramayana is pretty much a linear story, and the tale is fairly simple, so there's not much to work against. On the other hand, the Ramayana may be more well known, so unless somebody looks into this in more detail, it might be hard to tell.
posted by dhruva at 4:12 PM on September 18, 2009


The Cthulu mythos created across H.P. Lovecraft's short stories has been referenced and built on quite a bit, in works both literary and non.
posted by learn to read at 6:32 PM on September 18, 2009


Everything is a patterning work. It's just that only the most widely read stuff is noticed to be patterning work. So it's the most widely read stuff. But it has to be a little pompous material to begin with, otherwise it's risky to build on it.
posted by krilli at 5:02 AM on September 19, 2009


The Scarlet Pimpernel is your pattern for the entire modern secret identity genre; Zorro copied the Pimpernel, and Batman copied Zorro, and there you have your superhero archetype.
posted by graymouser at 9:12 AM on September 19, 2009


Thanks, guys!
posted by jason's_planet at 5:00 PM on September 19, 2009


« Older I'm trying to remember the tit...   |  Help me find this famous quote... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.