Sing O Muse
July 22, 2011 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Who are some literary male muses?

I was writing today, thinking about muses and realized that all of the muses I could think of were women. Considering how much writing is romantic, I couldn't believe that there were no male muses so I tried to think one. I came up with nothing. I emailed a friend, and he couldn't think of one either. It struck me as rather interesting as there must BE some, but clearly from the Greeks to Albert Brooks, muses are generally women. I figured that Metafilter would be able to finally supply me with some male muses.

To be specific, I'm in interested in real men (as opposed to purely fictional ones) who functioned like Petrarch's Laura or Dante's Beatrice in literature. (I know there is doubt about Laura's existence.)
posted by miss-lapin to Writing & Language (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Henry in The Time-Traveler's Wife?
posted by BrashTech at 2:23 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Neal Cassady for Kerouac's On The Road
posted by sunnichka at 2:24 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Robert Browning was the subject which inspired Elizabeth Barrett Browning to write Sonnets from the Portuguese (Sonnet 43 is a common reading at modern weddings).
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:26 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Fair Youth.
posted by Jahaza at 2:27 PM on July 22, 2011

Bosie Douglas for Oscar Wilde.
posted by scruss at 2:30 PM on July 22, 2011

Oddly enough, Truman Capote (as a child) was apparently the inspiration for Dill in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
posted by bearwife at 2:31 PM on July 22, 2011

Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie) and Oscar Wilde. Shakespeare's Sonnet 20.
posted by juniper at 2:32 PM on July 22, 2011

Dangit, beat to both punches!
posted by juniper at 2:32 PM on July 22, 2011

See this discussion of Michaelangelo's sexuality and poetry.
posted by Jahaza at 2:34 PM on July 22, 2011

Maybe Tennyson's "In Memoriam A.H.H." counts?
posted by CCCC at 2:37 PM on July 22, 2011

Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud for each other.
posted by spindle at 2:48 PM on July 22, 2011

(and a co-worker has suggested Henry Miller for Anais Nin.)
posted by spindle at 2:56 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Robert Maplethorpe for Patti Smith
posted by chrchr at 2:57 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Blazes Boylan to Molly Bloom in Ulysses?
posted by priested at 3:02 PM on July 22, 2011

Priested, the poster said "real men" - not fictional characters.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:12 PM on July 22, 2011

Alfred de Musset and Frederic Chopin for George Sand.
posted by spec80 at 3:36 PM on July 22, 2011

There was an interview with this authiatrix Kate Christensen on the Hairpin just a bit ago about this very topic. Apparently she has mad male muses in her life:
[The idea that women don't take men as muses] makes no sense to me at all. Women need men to get pregnant, among other important things. So why can’t we need men to fuel our work?

My first muse was a chubby, bespectacled, brown-eyed, sharply intelligent 13-year-old boy in Phoenix, Arizona in 1975. When he laughed at and loved my writing, I felt the erotic surge of my own power. Since then, I’ve written for and about and to and because of men.
I can't say anything about this woman's writing, but the interview is basically about your question and it's pretty interesting.
posted by jeb at 3:37 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Ahhhhh.... literal as opposed to figurate. Sorry I missed that. Either way Blazes was an ass.
posted by priested at 8:52 PM on July 22, 2011

Antinous was a muse of statesmanship. Antinous forever.
posted by Winnemac at 9:14 PM on July 22, 2011

George Barker for Elizabeth Smart (By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept). Ted Hughes, for good or ill, for Sylvia Plath. Anne Rice has made it clear in interviews that her vampire character Lestat was inspired by, and was in a sense a tribute to, her husband Stan Rice.
posted by jokeefe at 11:39 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Broadcaster Peggy Reynolds was reportedly the inspiration for Jeanette Winterson's novel The PowerBook, as well.
posted by jokeefe at 11:47 PM on July 22, 2011

Oh wait, you're not just talking about women writers with muses, but with male muses. Sorry.
posted by jokeefe at 11:48 PM on July 22, 2011

Moving from literature to film, there's Lina Wertmüller and Giancarlo Giannini.
posted by jokeefe at 11:51 PM on July 22, 2011

Colette's Chéri is supposed to be based on an affair she had with her stepson, Bertrand de Jouvenal. So he may qualify as a muse.
posted by BibiRose at 5:50 AM on July 23, 2011

Oh, and definitely in both classical Greek and Roman poetry, there are male as well as female objects of desire. But you specifically ask about real people, and it's really hard to tell how many of these figures may have been based on anyone specific.
posted by BibiRose at 5:53 AM on July 23, 2011

BibiRose-to me, a muse is more than an object of desire, it's an object of desire who serves as inspiration for the artist. As a writer myself, I can tell you that I have desired many men, but only a few have been muses. Beatrice is a classic example of a muse in that sense-she obviously inspired Dante a great deal by fueling his impulse to write. (I remember someone once telling me that a muse is essentially a love that is harbored but not held or, put more simply, an unattainable love.)
posted by miss-lapin at 6:59 AM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

the idealisation of youthful male beauty in ancient Greece involved as much inspiration as desire, so far as I remember. from the wikipedia article, here is Socrates describing the practice:
For I know not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning in life than a virtuous lover, or to a lover than a beloved youth. For the principle, I say, neither kindred, nor honor, nor wealth, nor any motive is able to implant so well as love. Of what am I speaking? Of the sense of honor and dishonor, without which neither states nor individuals ever do any good or great work… And if there were only some way of contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their loves, they would be the very best governors of their own city, abstaining from all dishonor and emulating one another in honor; and it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that when fighting at each other’s side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world.
(and, incidentally, Alcibiades as a muse for Socrates.)
posted by spindle at 7:24 AM on July 23, 2011

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