Friday, May 7, 2010

Books and Authors Enjoyed by Mr. Cave

You can definitely tell, listening to Mr. Cave, that he is a well-read individual. Something I've been meaning to do for a long time is come up with some sort of definitive list of books/authors he either likes and/or has mentioned in his songs.

It is my goal to explore all of these at some point. Whether or not you are thinking of doing the same, please help me by submitting references from songs, interviews, etc. that I have missed. YAY!

To get things started, you must, as a Cave fan, read his own two books:

And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) [PLOT SYNOPSIS]
The Death of Bunny Munro (2009) [PLOT SYNOPSIS]

Now, here is what will be, I assume, a constantly-updated list of authors and novels mentioned by Mr. Cave. See something missing? Let me know!

In the Belly of the Beast by Jack Abbott1
Thank You by W.H. Auden1
Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire1
Collected Poems by John Betjeman1
American Murder Ballads and Their Stories by Olive Woolley Burt1
The Anatomy of Melancholy by Roger Burton1
Butler's Lives of the Saints1
Louis Wain The Man Who Drew Cats by Rodney Dale1
Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis1
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky5
George Eliot8
The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis11
Harlot by Jill Alexander Essbaum2
The Unvanquisher by William Faulkner1
Paul Gauguin3
The Odyssey by Homer7
High Windows and Selected Letters by Philip Larkin1,3
Federico Garcia Lorca and his concept of "duende"10
The Bad Seed by William March 9
Das Kapital by Karl Marx3
Paradise Lost by John Milton6
News From Nowhere by William Morris4
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 1
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor1
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid edited by Michael Ondaatje1
The Cantos by Ezra Pound1
A Flower Book For the Pocket by Skene1
W.H. Auden a Tribute edited by Stephen Spender1
The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross1
The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila1
Inferno / From an Occult Diary by August Strindberg1
Dylan Thomas3
John Wilmot3
W.B. Yeats8
And, of course...The Bible

1 Shown in Stories, with a caption of "a selection of Nick Cave's favourite books." In the case of Lolita, Nick has mentioned numerous times his love for this book. He mentions Nabokov in "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" and in Nick Cave Stories [LINK], which is way over-priced, in my opinion (and I can say that since I own it).

2The picture at the top of this entry, which came from HERE.

3Mentioned in the song "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" from Abattoir Blues.

4One can only assume he is referencing this book with the song "More News From Nowhere". I have this book because of a utopia/dystopia class I took, but I've yet to read it.

5Here, among other places. His dad made him read it. (Thanks, scarletts-web!)

6As in "Song of Joy" and "Red Right Hand". (Thanks, Caroline!)

7From "More News From Nowhere". (Thanks again to Caroline.)

8From "No Pussy Blues," as pointed out by jutkacsak.

9Title of the band, duh. :) (Thanks, manilla-manish!)

10Nick Cave's Love Song Lecture [LINK], as pointed out by corpse-in-snow.

11HERE, as pointed out by abattoir_blues)


  1. Crime and Punishment - his dad made him read it at 12.

  2. John Milton - Paradise Lost (from the songs "Red right hand" and "Song of Joy")

    Homer - Odyssey (from the song "More news from nowhere")

    and of course the Bible.

    Also, this comment suggests that the title "Fleeting love" is a reference to the concept of "fleeting/liquid love" which is a term coined by sociologist zygmund bauman.

  3. Eliot and Yeats in the No Pussy Blues

  4. Well, how about The Bad Seed by William March? He got the name from his band from this book.

  5. Just as an FYI--Ondaatje's first name is Michael.

    Also, you might want to add Federico Garcia Lorca to the list, since Nick cites his concept of "duende" a lot.

  6. Thank you all! I have added these to the list. You all rock! :D

  7. Pretty sure he name-dropped Patrick Hamilton in an interview a few years ago. Quite a few of Hamilton's books are set in Brighton which may be part of the appeal.

    In the late 80s he also did an NME 'Material World' where he listed his favourite authors. Can't find it on the internet but I still have a cutting. A few of them: Jo Imog's 'The Demon Flower', William Faulkner, Nabokov, Melville, Martin Amis, Joseph Conrad

  8. Correction - The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) was written by Robert Burton, not Roger Burton (a brilliant book by the way, if you have the time and patience to get through it).