Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos
Just a few days ago, while traveling around some tropical islands, several thoughts came to my mind. First, looking at such exotic places with solid green colors and soft blues, the idea of Gauguin getting all fascinated by the Polynesia came to me in a very clear way, understanding all of a sudden, how the artist found this source of inspiration so great, as it was so different from his home town back in France.
Then I started thinking about how much the weather and the scenery influence writers and provoke them to produce pieces that they might not have written if they hadn’t gone through all these new experiences.
So, I remembered how Albert Camus wrote in his famous The Outsider, how the extreme heat was the cause of a violent act while in Algiers, which, the main character, Raymond Meursault, may not have committed otherwise.
I also thought of Beatrix Potter, famous for her lovely and colorful Peter Rabbit stories, as she spent a good deal of time writing, inspired either by her little pets and farm animals, as well as for the time she spent outdoors surrounded by the green British scenery.
Also inspired by his surroundings, Ernest Hemingway developed The Old Man and the Sea, one of his most famous stories in Cuba. It was a fisherman who lived there, the waves and the warm scenery, that made Hemingway came up with the story of old Santiago trying to succeeded with his last catch.
But cities also have a very big influence in writers, and I keep wondering how is it that some cities are (or seem to be) more inspirational than others?
Places like Dublin, Saint Petersburg and Prague seem to have a special magic that brings out most of the best and deep stories, like the ones written by the Czech author Jan Neruda, who, in his Tales of the Lesser Quarter, shows vivid descriptions of the local customs and what it was like to live in the 19th century Prague.
How this magic works is a question I haven’t actually find an answer for, but of one thing I’m sure, the most important thing for any writer or avid traveler (they usually combine) is to keep your eyes alert, your ears attentive and your heart wide open.