I have never been a fan of Maurice Sendak. I was eight when Where the Wild Things Are was published, but I do not think I ever heard of it or Sendak until I was in college. I am not sure I have ever read any Sendak, but I know I have at least paged through Wild Things and looked at the pictures (the only way to read a book, right?). The pictures never did anything for me. Clips from the movie do nothing to make me want to see it.
Over the past year, I have come to understand that Mr. Sendak, whatever his talents as a writer, is quite a character. There is a wonderful interview with NPR’s Terry Gross on Fresh Air.
Now I notice this bit of video on YouTube in which he says something that makes me feel better about myself. At just around the 1:54 mark, he discusses the poet William Blake. He has a whole shelf devoted to Blake and has read a lot of and about Blake. He loves Blake, especially as an illustrator (which makes sense). But the part I love is
I don’t understand him. I still can’t read through one of his illuminated ma…I can’t. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.
I have tried reading Blake on many occasions, but I have never gotten very far. I do not understand him. It is good to know that it is not just me.
I have, as I have aged, begun to sense that much poetry does not yield understanding without repeated reading. But who wants to read without understanding? I suppose that is what the rhythm and language is for, to provide pleasure while waiting for understanding. I just made that up, but I can’t believe that (having majored in English Lit) I have never been told it.
At some point I plan to read Blake again. And I will read him aloud and will plow through even when I’m lost.
Maybe that plan should apply to reading Sendak.….
3 thoughts on “Sendak on Blake”
I hadn’t read Where the Wild Things Are til last winter. The book really irritated me, especially in light of the fandom it enjoys.
Irritated? How so?
Irritated because the story is about a bratty little boy who gets sent to his room without dinner, has a wild imaginative episode, and then gets his dinner served to him in his room anyway. The story ends with him giving a very knowing grimace to the reader which says nothing but “I got away with it.”