As frontman of ’80s post-punk powerhouse The Cure, Robert Smith infused his songs with literary inspirations as far-reaching as Baudelaire’s classic poetry and Penelope Farmer’s haunting children’s stories. In a 2003 interview with French magazine Rock & Folk (preserved by Cure archive Pictures of You), the goth father discussed the books of his life:

“Sometimes as I look back on myself as a teenager, reading Salinger, Rimbaud or Edgar Allen Poe…it makes me want to laugh. But it would be a pathetic reaction, typical of a mocking father facing his child’s first emotions. The amazement is too pure to be laughed at. Authors for teenagers are considered caricatures. But let’s take Jean-Paul Sartre: his description of the human condition stays unmatched, and I defy anyone to do better than Nausea.”

From The Chronicles of Narnia to Kafka’s enduring influence, find Robert Smith’s reading list below. Complement with the bookshelves of lit rockers Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Jim Morrisson, Morrissey, Nick Cave, and Patti Smith.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (also rec’d by Tilda Swinton & Trevor Noah)

“My father used to read them to send me to sleep when I was 4. C.S. Lewis is a fantasy author, even if he’s very Catholic. At the time, tensions were high between my father and brother, in his teenage crisis. I adored running away with those tales, it was my only solace: I was just discovering the incredible power of literature, one of consolation and escapism.” -RS

Collected Stories by Franz Kafka

“For the first time, the narrator’s voice was mine. I was the narrator. I was blending myself in his words. I read and re-read all of his books: The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle… His influence on my writing is huge, as on ‘A letter to Elise,’ directly inspired by his Letters to Felice.” -RS

The Stranger by Albert Camus (also rec’d by David BowieJim MorrisonLeonard Cohen, Paulo Coelho & Philip Seymour Hoffman)

Charlotte Sometimes & Two by Penelope Farmer

“I was obsessed with Charlotte Sometimes, this idea of temporal downfall, of duality, of personality trouble and the torture that follows. Charlotte, after her first night in boarding school, wakes up, 40 years back and in another body. This connects with the theme of twins, which Penelope Farmer wrote a fascinating book about (Two or the book of twins and doubles, 1996). I’ve always dreamed of having a twin, somebody you can’t fool, who would always be there, like a mirror.” -RS

The Gormenghast Novels by Mervyn Peake

“Fuschia was my dream. This idea of infinite, of unreal, of dying innocence… At the time I was considering myself as her, as a victim. Now my fascination has turned into anger. I want to shake her, to put her out of her contemplative passivity. But this is all a question of age. It’s normal, as a teenager, to love this idea of being a victim, the whole world is against me, no one understands me except my books. Lots of my reading connected with that.” -RS

Paradise Lost by John Milton (also rec’d by Nick Cave)

“Pure poetry, fabulous, a must for an English grammar school pupil and very influential on romantic writers. The style is strong, incredible. It strongly influenced ‘Pornography.'” -RS

Works by Charles Baudelaire (also rec’d by Oscar Wilde)

“Some poems, like Baudelaire’s ‘The Eyes of the Poor,’ impressed me so much that I wanted to make a song of them. Their style, for me, already has a kind of musical rhythm. Singing ‘How Beautiful You Are’ is like going into oral tradition. I take more pleasure expressing love in this Baudelaire poem than singing ‘Friday I’m in Love.'” -RS

A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J.D. Salinger

“He’s a character that I admire and that also intrigues me: isolating himself from the world, living as a recluse in a monastery, giving up writing and refusing any contact with the outside, it’s fascinating.” -RS

Complete Works by Arthur Rimbaud (also rec’d by Jim Morrison & Michael Stipe)

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

“A masterpiece of modern poetry.” -RS

Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

“His description of the human condition stays unmatched, and I defy anyone to do better than Nausea.” -RS

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

“A classic for music maniacs. Brilliant, perfect, I have all the records mentioned in it!” -RS

(via Pictures of You)

Categories: Musicians

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