"I don't believe that I have ever written a children's book." That's what Maurice Sendak says of his long, celebrated career in what most of the world would consider to be children's books.
Best known for "Where the Wild Things Are," the tale of Max and his nighttime voyage into wild lands, Sendak, the 83-year-old writer and illustrator, reflects on his work in a new short documentary from the British art institution, the Tate. The video is a part of Tate Shots, "a series of short videos with a focus on modern and contemporary art."
"How do you set out to write a children's book? It's a lie," he continues. Of the people who ask him where "Wild Things 2" is, he answers, "Go to hell ... go to hell. I'm not a whore, I don't do those things."
On his artistic philosophy, Sendak looks to "Moby Dick" author Herman Melville.
"Herman Melville said that artists have to take a dive and either you hit your head on a rock and you split your skull and you die or that blow to the head is so inspiring that you come back up and do the best work that you ever did," he says. "But you have to take the dive and you do not know what the result will be."
Melville isn't the only artist Sendak looks to for inspiration. He's currently writing a book on the life of William Blake, of whom he says, "I don't know what the hell he's talking about, but I love him. His profound belief in something ... sounds kind of idiotic ... but I believe him, I believe in his passion."
Sendak goes on to discuss his favorite of his own books, his upbringing in Brooklyn, and the "appropriateness" of his work. Sendak's most recent book, "Bumble Ardy," tells the story of an exuberant young pig whose plans to throw himself a party soon get out of hand. Like many of his books, critics wondered if the material was too scary, or too adult, for younger readers.
But though Sendak says he doesn't write books for children, he waxes rhapsodic about what children are specially equipped to perceive: "The magic of childhood and the strangeness of childhood, the uniqueness that makes us see things that other people don't see."
Watch the short documentary below:
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