In doing this study, I have also encountered the reality that authors build upon a literary tradition. The influences of prior authors shape some our favorite books, television shows, and movies. Often, later writers find phenomenal success after the original works by which they were influenced have fallen into obscurity.
What I have come to realize is that we all do it.
If I have seen further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants. —Sir Isaac Newton
It’s the originality with which we build our worlds and the characters who inhabit them that matters. There are only so many stories and so many ways to tell them.
So while it’s fun to trace the origins, the body of literature is so vast that it’s a virtually impossible task. To say nothing of authors who are inspired by pastiches and don’t even know it. That’s how genres are born.
As a footnote, I stayed up all night reading Almuric by Robert E. Howard after I read on a blog that the villains were one of the literary influences behind D&D’s Drow. I inadvertently discovered that it may also contain one of the influences behind their early portrayal of the canine kobold.
You just never know where something might have come from. Throw in folklore, myth, and legend and now you’re looking at the work of a lifetime.
Better to let the imagination flow. Homages can be fun, but there’s often more behind them than even the author may realize.
For those of you who may be wondering, the title of this blog post is a reference to The Hobbit.