isaac brock of modest mouse, via getty images
isaac brock of modest mouse, via getty images

20 Bands Named After Classic Literature

isaac brock of modest mouse, via getty images
isaac brock of modest mouse, via getty images

Sometimes musicians reach for inspiration from their bookshelves. Here are 20 bands named after classic literature.

1. Modest Mouse

Issaquah, Washington's Modest Mouse named their band after a passage from the novel The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf. “I chose the name when I was fifteen," explains lead singer Isaac Brock. "I wanted something that was completely ambiguous, but it’s really candyesque sounding. But it meant something to me. And I could identify with that.”

"I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises."

2. Veruca Salt

Alternative rock band Veruca Salt is named after the spoiled rich girl who wins one of the Golden Tickets from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

3. My Chemical Romance

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Bassist Mikey Way was working at a Barnes & Noble when he was taken with the title Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance from Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh. His older brother and co-founder Gerard Way suggested the word "My" at the beginning of the band name.

4. Titus Andronicus

The New Jersey punk band named themselves after the William Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus, one of the playwright's most bloody and violent.

"I have found that when a person wants to be in a band, he or she spends a lot of time accumulating a mental file of words or phrases that would be cool band names. "'Titus Andronicus' was, to my mind, the best one that I’d come across," vocalist/guitarist Patrick Stickles explained to Exclaim.ca. "I wanted our band to straddle that line between the more cerebral, thoughtful elements of the human condition and the part of us that just wants to see blood and brutality."

5. The Doors

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The Doors took their band name from Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception, which was itself taken from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell from English poet William Blake:

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”

6. Rainer Maria

Co-founders Caithlin De Marrais and Kyle Fischer named their indie rock band after Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. The pair first met at a writing workshop in Madison, Wisconsin.

7. Steppenwolf

The band's original name was The Sparrow, but founder John Kay renamed it Steppenwolf based on a suggestion from record producer Gabriel Mekler, who had just finished reading Hermann Hesse’s novel.

8. Of Mice & Men

California-based Metalcore band Of Mice & Men got their name from John Steinbeck's famous work.

“The book Of Mice and Men says, ‘the well laid plans of mice and men often falter,’” frontman Austin Carlile explained. “You make plans, and they get screwed up. [Bassist Jaxin Hall] and I both had plans for life, and they both got screwed up, so now we’re making the most of what we can.”

9. Joy Division

Joy Division with Sam Riley

Originally, the name of the band was Warsaw, but they changed it to Joy Division so people wouldn't confuse them with another punk band from London called Warsaw Pakt. The name Joy Division comes from a novella entitled House of Dolls from a Jewish writer named Yehiel Feiner, who wrote under the pen name Ka-tzetnik 135633, which was his number in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The novella describes Jewish Joy Divisions as a group of women being used as sex slaves for Nazi soldiers and officers during World War II.

10. Clem Snide

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Singer/songwriter Eef Barzelay named his alt-country band Clem Snide after a character who frequently appears in the novels of William S. Burroughs, including Naked Lunch, Exterminator!, and The Ticket That Exploded.

11. As I Lay Dying

The San Diego-based metalcore band got their name from William Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying. While lead singer Tim Lambesis liked the name of the book, he believes that its themes and story don't reflect the band's identity.

"We got the idea from the name. I wouldn’t say that there is a correlation in the meaning of the book and the meaning of the band. We stole the name from there," Lambesis explained to Metal Underground. "It’s kind of depressing but I guess it’s well-written. It’s not my style of novel."

12. Belle & Sebastian

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Lead singer and founder Stuart Murdoch named his indie pop band after a French children's book called Belle et Sébastien by Cécile Aubry. It was adapted into a TV series during the '70s and was made into a Japanese anime series in the '80s.

13. Silverchair

Originally, the Australian alternative band was called Innocent Criminals, but the trio was later renamed Silverchair after the C.S. Lewis novel The Silver Chair when they signed with Sony Music in 1994. The Silver Chair is the fourth novel in "The Chronicles of Narnia" book series.

14. Josef K

The Scottish post-punk band took their name from the protagonist featured in Franz Kafka's novels The Trial and The Castle. The character Josef K also appears in the short story "A Dream."

15. The Artful Dodger

British garage band The Artful Dodger was named after the leader of the juvenile pickpocket gang in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Founders Mark Hill and Pete Devereux took the name because of all the bootleg songs they made when they first got started in the music industry.

16. The Boo Radleys

This name comes from the mysterious Boo Radley of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. According to the band's MySpace page, "The name comes from the shady character in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, but was chosen (in a pub) just because they liked the sound of it."

17. Sixpence None The Richer

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Sixpence None The Richer took their name from a passage in C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity. The section from Lewis' book is about a son asking his father for a sixpence to buy him a gift.

"When the father received the present, he was none the richer because he originally gave the sixpence to his son," lead singer Leigh Nash said on The Late Show with David Letterman. "The analogy is to God who gives gifts for us to glorify him. He is not richer because of our presentation since he originally gave the gift."

18. Okkervil River

Okkervil River lead singer Will Sheff named his indie rock band after a short story by Russian novelist Tatyana Tolstaya.

"There’s a lot of writing in the second person, a lot of jumping around in terms of what she was talking about, and it just felt very intuitive to me," Will Sheff told MTV. "A lot [of] how those experiences might feel to me, where you’re waking up from a dream and you’re jostled around. I was just really impressed by her writing."

Okkervil is also the name of a muddy river in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

19. The Airborne Toxic Event

The Los Angeles-based indie rock band based their name on a section from the novel White Noise by Don DeLillo.

20. Moby

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Born Richard Hall, the electronic songwriter got his middle name "Melville" and the nickname "Moby" from his parents, who told him at a young age that Moby Dick author Herman Melville was in their family lineage. "The basis for Richard Melville Hall—and for Moby—is that supposedly Herman Melville was my great-great-great-granduncle," he told CNN.

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Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
The Covers of Jack Kerouac's Classic Titles Are Getting a Makeover
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press

Readers have been enjoying classic Jack Kerouac books like The Dharma Bums and On the Road for decades, but starting this August the novels will have a new look. Several abstract covers have been unveiled as part of Penguin’s "Great Kerouac" series, according to design website It’s Nice That.

The vibrant covers, designed by Tom Etherington of Penguin Press, feature the works of abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline. The artwork is intended to capture “the experience of reading Kerouac” rather than illustrating a particular scene or character, Etherington told It’s Nice That. Indeed, abstract styles of artwork seem a fitting match for Kerouac’s “spontaneous prose”—a writing style that was influenced by improvisational jazz music.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Dharma Bums, which was published just one year after On the Road. The Great Kerouac series will be available for purchase on August 2.

[h/t It's Nice That]

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Hulton Archive, Getty Images
15 Things You Might Not Know About Jules Verne
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Jules Verne, widely regarded as one of the fathers of science fiction, wrote some of literature's most famous adventure novels, including seminal works like Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in 80 Days. In addition to helping pioneer a new genre of writing, the French author also sailed the world, had a career as a stockbroker, fell in love with his cousin, and was shot by his nephew. Here are 15 facts you probably didn't know about him.

1. HE GREW UP SURROUNDED BY SHIPS.

On February 8, 1828, Pierre and Sophie Verne welcomed their first child, Jules Gabriel, at Sophie's mother's home in Nantes, a city in western France. Verne's birthplace had a profound impact on his writing. In the 19th century, Nantes was a busy port city that served as a major hub for French shipbuilders and traders, and Verne's family lived on Ile Feydeau, a small, man-made island in a tributary of the Loire River. Verne spent his childhood watching ships sail down the Loire and imagining what it would be like to climb aboard them [PDF]. He would later work these early memories of maritime life into his writing.

2. HE FELL IN LOVE WITH HIS COUSIN.

Verne began writing poetry at just 12 years old. As a teenager, he used poetry as an outlet for his burgeoning romantic feelings. Verne fell in love with his cousin, Caroline Tronson, who was a year and a half older than him. He wrote and dedicated poems to Tronson, gave her presents, and attended dances with her. Unfortunately, Tronson didn't reciprocate her younger cousin's feelings. In 1847, when Verne was 19 and Tronson was 20, she married a man two decades her senior. Verne was heartbroken.

3. HIS FATHER PRESSURED HIM TO BE A LAWYER.

While Verne had been passionate about writing since his early teens, his father strongly encouraged young Jules to follow in his footsteps and enter the legal profession. Soon after Tronson's marriage, Verne's father capitalized on his son's depression, convincing him to move to Paris to study law.

Verne graduated with a law degree in 1851. But he kept writing fiction during this period, and continued to clash with his father over his career path. In 1852, Verne's father arranged for him to practice law in Nantes, but Verne decided to pursue life as a writer instead.

4. HE LIVED IN PARIS DURING A TUMULTUOUS TIME.

Verne's time in Paris coincided with a period of intense political instability. The French Revolution of 1848 broke out soon after Verne moved to the city to study law. Though he didn't participate, he was strikingly close to the conflict and its turbulent aftermath, including the coup d'état that ended France's Second Republic. "On Thursday the fighting was intense; at the end of my street, houses were knocked down by cannon fire," he wrote to his mother during the fighting that followed the coup in December 1851. Verne managed to stay out of the political upheaval during those years, but his writing later explored themes of governmental strife. In his 1864 novella The Count of Chanteleine: A Tale of the French Revolution, Verne wrote about the struggles of ordinary and noble French people during the French Revolutionary Wars, while his novel The Flight to France recounted the wartime adventures of an army captain in 1792.

5. HE BECAME A STOCKBROKER TO PAY THE BILLS.

In May 1856, Verne was the best man at his best friend's wedding in Amiens, a city in northern France. During the wedding festivities, Verne lodged with the bride's family and met Honorine de Viane Morel, the bride's sister. He developed a crush on Morel, a 26-year-old widow with two kids, and in January 1857, with the permission of her family, the two married.

There was one big problem. Verne had been writing plays for Paris theaters, but being a playwright didn't pay the bills. Verne needed a respectable income to support Morel and her daughters. Morel's brother offered Verne a job at a brokerage, and he accepted, quitting his theater job to become a stockbroker at the Paris Bourse. Writing was never too far from Verne's mind, though. He woke up early each day to write and research for several hours before heading to his day job.

6. HIS ADVENTURE NOVELS WERE PART OF A SERIES …

A caricature of Jules Verne on the sea floor with fantastic sea creatures on the cover of a magazine.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Modern readers probably think of Verne's most famous books as distinct entities, but his adventure novels were actually part of a series. In the early 1860s, Verne met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, an established publisher and magazine editor who helped Verne publish his first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon. This novel served as the beginning of Voyages Extraordinaires, a series of dozens of books written by Verne and published by Hetzel. Most of these novels—including famous titles like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea—appeared in installments in Hetzel's magazine before being published in book form.

7. … THAT PROVIDED HIM WITH A STEADY STREAM OF INCOME.

Starting in 1863, Verne agreed to write two volumes per year for Hetzel, a contract that provided him with a steady source of income for decades. Between 1863 and 1905, Verne published 54 novels about travel, adventure, history, science, and technology for the Voyages Extraordinaires series. He worked closely with Hetzel on characters, structure, and plot until the publisher's death in 1886. Verne's writing wasn't limited to this series, however; in total, he wrote 65 novels over the course of his life, though some would not be published until long after his death.

8. HE DREW INSPIRATION FROM HIS OWN SAILING ADVENTURES.

During the 1860s, Verne's career was taking off, and he was making good money. So in 1867, he bought a small yacht, which he named the Saint Michel, after his son, Michel. When he wasn't living in Amiens, he spent time sailing around Europe to the Channel Islands, along the English Coast, and across the Bay of Biscay. Besides enjoying the peace and quiet at sea, he also worked during these sailing trips, writing most of the manuscripts for Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea on his yacht. As he earned more money, he replaced the Saint Michel with a larger boat that he called the Saint Michel II. A few years later, he bought a third vessel, the Saint Michel III, a steam yacht that he hired a crew of 10 to man on long voyages to Scotland and through the Mediterranean.

9. HE'S ONE OF THE MOST TRANSLATED AUTHORS IN THE WORLD …

Verne wrote in French, but his works have always had an international appeal. Since the 1850s, his writing has been translated into approximately 150 languages—making him the second most translated author ever. He has appeared in translation even more often than William Shakespeare. He is second only to Agatha Christie, who holds the world record.

10. … BUT NOT ALL OF THOSE TRANSLATIONS ARE ACCURATE.

Although Verne wrote primarily for adults, many English-language publishers considered his science fiction writing to be juvenile and marketed his books to children. Translators dumbed down his work, simplifying stories, cutting heavily researched passages, summarizing dialogue, and in some cases, nixing anything that might be construed as a critique of the British Empire. Many translations even contain outright errors, such as measurements converted incorrectly.

Some literary historians now bemoan the shoddy translations of many of Verne's works, arguing that almost all of these early English translations feature significant changes to both plot and tone. Even today, these poor translations make up much of Verne's available work in English. But anglophone readers hoping to read more authentic versions of his stories are in luck. Thanks to scholarly interest, there has been a recent surge in new Verne translations that aim to be more faithful to the original texts.

11. HE HAD MAJOR HEALTH PROBLEMS.

Starting in his twenties, Verne began experiencing sudden bouts of extreme stomach pain. He wrote about his agonizing stomach cramps in letters to family members, but he failed to get a proper diagnosis from doctors. To try to ease his pain, he experimented with different diets, including one in which he ate only eggs and dairy. Historians believe that Verne may have had colitis or a related digestion disorder.

Even more unsettling than the stomach pain, Verne suffered from five episodes of facial paralysis over the course of his life. During these painful episodes, one side of his face suddenly became immobile. After the first attack, doctors treated his facial nerve with electric stimulation, but he had another attack five years later, and several more after that. Recently, researchers have concluded that he had Bell's palsy, a temporary form of one-sided facial paralysis caused by damage to the facial nerve. Doctors have hypothesized that it was the result of ear infections or inflammation, but no one knows for sure why he experienced this.

Verne developed type-2 diabetes in his fifties, and his health declined significantly in the last decade of his life. He suffered from high blood pressure, chronic dizziness, tinnitus, and other maladies, and eventually went partially blind.

12. HIS MENTALLY ILL NEPHEW SHOT HIM IN THE LEG …

In March 1886, a traumatic incident left the 58-year-old Verne disabled for the rest of his life. Verne's nephew Gaston, who was then in his twenties and suffering from mental illness, suddenly became violent, to Verne's detriment. The writer was arriving home one day when, out of the blue, Gaston shot him twice with a pistol. Thankfully, Verne survived, but the second bullet that Gaston fired struck the author's left leg.

13. … LEAVING HIM WITH A PERMANENT LIMP.

After the incident, Gaston was sent to a mental asylum. He wasn't diagnosed with a specific disorder, but most historians believe he suffered from paranoia or schizophrenia.

Verne never fully recovered from the attack. The bullet damaged his left leg badly, and his diabetes complicated the healing process. A secondary infection left him with a noticeable limp that persisted until his death in 1905.

14. HIS WORK CONTRIBUTED TO THE RISE OF STEAMPUNK.

Verne's body of work heavily influenced steampunk, the science fiction subgenre that takes inspiration from 19th century industrial technology. Some of Verne's characters, as well as the fictional machines he wrote about, have appeared in prominent steampunk works. For example, the TV show The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne explored the idea that Verne actually experienced the fantastic things he wrote about, and Captain Nemo from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea appeared as a character in the comic book series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

15. MANY OF HIS PREDICTIONS WERE SURPRISINGLY SPOT-ON.

Some of the technology Verne imagined in his fiction later became reality. One of the machines that Verne dreamed up, Nautilus—the electric submarine in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea—came to life years after he first wrote about it. The first installment of the serialized Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was published in 1869, and the first battery-powered submarines were launched in the 1880s. (Similar submarine designs are still in use today.)

In addition, Verne's Paris In The Twentieth Century contains several surprisingly accurate technological predictions. Written in 1863, the dystopian novel imagines a tech-obsessed Parisian society in 1960. Verne wrote about skyscrapers, elevators, cars with internal combustion engines, trains, electric city lights, and suburbs. He was massively ahead of his time. He even wrote about a group of mechanical calculators (as in, computers) that could communicate with one another over a network (like the Internet). Pretty impressive for a guy born in 1828.

But Verne's influence goes beyond science fiction, steampunk, or real-world technology. His writing has inspired countless authors in genres ranging from poetry to travel to adventure. As Ray Bradbury wrote, "We are all, in one way or another, the children of Jules Verne."

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