One of the thrills of reading is creating an image in your head of what the characters and setting look like. It’s often frustrating when a movie comes out and destroys the image that an eloquent author implanted in your mind. However, when an author is inspired by or describes a real place, like The Metropolitan Museum of Art from Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, seeing the real thing is much more compelling. Taking a look at the real-life places that inspired authors will make you think: what is it about this place that convinced the author to write about it? How accurately did they describe it? If you don’t have the means to travel to these literary destinations, imagine taking a step into the literary world with these images.
A peak inside New York’s famous Metropolitan Museum of Art, from http://bit.ly/1Qgq5pD.
Walden Pond, Concord MA, USA
This tranquil place was the source of Thoreau’s work:
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Henry David Thoreau was many things: author, philosopher, historian, transcendentalist, and abolitionist – but that’s not even the full list. He was also a true lover of nature who isolated himself in the woods as a means for inspiration, philosophical contemplation, and simple living. He moved to Walden Pond in the mid-1800s where he lived in his homemade house. He eventually wrote and published Walden: or, Life in the Woods, a reflective philosophy on living in a natural environment.
Green Gables, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada
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The setting for Anne of Green Gables is actually based on a farm from author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s childhood (called, you guessed it, the Green Gables Farm). Montgomery grew up in Prince Edward Island, a rural yet beautiful part of Canada, and had a love for the island. Many of the spots in her book are named after real places she would visit around the island and the Green Gables farm. Looking at the farm and equally as mesmerizing Cavendish landscape, it’s not hard to image how such a beautiful place would inspire the young girl turned author.
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Although this is not a hard fact, there is a long standing rumor that the stunning Italian town of Narni provided C.S. Lewis with inspiration for the fictional Narnia in The Chronicles of Narnia. Walter Hooper, once Lewis’s personal secretary and biographer, has indicated that Lewis was inspired by Narni. Despite the fact that the author never seemed to actually visit the hillside town, there are a number of similarities between Narni and Narnia, including a Roman statue of a lion, a castle atop a hill with views of a vast valley, and a shining lake. Whether Narni was inspiration or not is up in the air, but there certainly seems to be a resemblance… (for reference, look at the featured image in this article, which is the film depiction of Narnia).
Mark Twain’s McDougal’s Cave, Hannibal, Missouri, USA
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The McDougal’s Cave plays a big role in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and while it may not seem difficult to picture a cave, Twain describes quite an intricate place. Tom Sawyer explores a “labyrinth of crooked aisles that ran into each other and out again and led nowhere,” as described in Twain’s book. The cave is now a National Natural Landmark, a popular tourist spot, and supposedly housed the notorious outlaw Jesse James for some time. Like all caves, it’s pretty awesome.
The Central Park Carousel, Manhattan, New York, USA
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Whether you love or hate J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, there is no denying that one of the most memorable scenes takes place at a quintessentially 1950s New York location: the Central Park Carousel. Reading Salinger’s words on Central Park, and New York City in general, thrusts us into a different time in a familiar place. The carousel is significant in Holden’s story because he momentarily displays happiness. All other iconic sites that appear in his story – Penn Station, the Central Park Zoo, the Biltmore Hotel – are cloaked in bleak, angsty depression. Just look at this colorful collaboration of stiff, metal horses!
Featured image courtesy of http://bit.ly/1oCZh88.