Inspiration and the Recycling of Ideas

Recently I have been reading Spenser’s Faerie Queen, a much under appreciated work of literary merit, which relates the adventurers of a series of Knights and characters within the mythical ‘Faerie Lond’. When one reads this epic narrative, which is seething with unusual ideas and potent imagery, one understands how great writers of later times have adopted ideas and concepts and then placed their own interpretation on them. Milton clearly utilises the idea that is in the first Canto of the Faerie Queen where the Dragon Errours vomits forth its young and then swallows them again. In Paradise Lost, Sin gives birth to ravaging dogs, which then crawl back into her womb. In addition Tolkien incorporated many concepts from the poem into his famous work: The Lord Of The Rings.

It is important to constantly seek to develop new ideas of our own, but also to draw upon old resources that can inspire us and adapt them. Recycling images, metaphors, or unusual precepts that interest us is not plagiarism but simply resourcing: a writer writing about the 18th Century would obviously read books already written on the topic, would look up information on the internet, and would employ numerous sources to produce their final product, creative writers need be no different. For anyone who is suffering from writer’s block or who is struggling to find inspiration for a work of art or even a piece of music, I highly recommend you read Spenser’s Faerie Queen; for it is a veritable mine of fascinating concepts and stories or as my father says: “a cornucopia of phantasmagorical ideas”.

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One thought on “Inspiration and the Recycling of Ideas

  1. Yes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and as King Solomon said: ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, so the great writers use other writers as their source of inspiration. Shakespeare virtually borrowed all his plots! Great piece, Joe.

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