Most writers are avid readers, and most have encountered books that forever stand out in their imaginations. Tributes to these hallmark works may come in many fashions, not least of which is their inclusion in a novel of one’s own.
In The Penderwicks of Gardham Street, the author (Jeanne Birdsall) gives a nod to several well-known writers–she weaves in references to CS Lewis, E. Nesbit, and other authors whose works I assume she admired. One of Birdsall’s characters dreams of having experiences such as the Pevensies had in Narnia with Aslan, or adventuring with Psammead like the siblings in The Five Children and It. Birdsall is far from the first to offer a literary nod to other authors. In fact, I’ve noticed an increasing number of writers tipping their hats to their predecessors.
This sign of respect may be as subtle as the names of minor characters or settings or as blatant as the direct references in the Penderwicks stories. In fantasy, it’s more rare to find a direct reference–instead, it’s more likely to be discreet, like Peterson’s inclusion of Tollers and Tumnus in the royal family lineage of the Wingfeather Saga.
As someone who loves books, I appreciate this subtle form of respect for great authors who have taken ground in a genre or those who have personally impacted the writer. Of course, it can be done poorly, in a way that doesn’t add to the story, but for the most part, I find it enjoyable to stumble across those references and reminders of other fictive worlds I’ve enjoyed.
Have you noticed this trend? Does this practice break the fictive dream for you or enhance the reading experience?