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The Cure's Robert Smith names his 12 favourite books


While music venues are forced to remain closed amid the global pandemic, there’s light appearing to rear its head at the end of the tunnel. Though the period of lockdown has been a crippling one for the live music industry, fans have been offered the time to reflect on their favourite artists in other mediums of expression. Here, we explore the reading list of The Cure frontman Robert Smith.

Smith, a bastion of the post-punk movement from the very moment he formed The Cure in 1976, has traversed genres through music, fashion and even cinema with the undoubted influence on film director Tim Burton and his groundbreaking feature film Edward Scissorhands.

While Smith has always worn his inspirations on his sleeve, it is the world of literature that had the deepest impact on his creativity from a young age. “Sometimes as I look back on myself as a teenager, reading Salinger, Rimbaud or Edgar Allen Poe…it makes me want to laugh,” the musician once commented.

Adding: “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.”

With that in mind, we’re taking some of Smith’s most treasured literary suggestions as a guide for lockdown reading. “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,” he said of The Chronicles of Narnia, the first pick on his list of favourite books. “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.”

With the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Albert Camus, C.S. Lewis and more, see the full list below.

Robert Smith’s favourite books:

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
  2. Collected Stories – Franz Kafka
  3. The Stranger Albert Camus
  4. Charlotte Sometimes & Two – Penelope Farmer
  5. The Gormenghast Novels – Mervyn Peake
  6. Paradise Lost – John Milton
  7. Works – Charles Baudelaire
  8. A Perfect Day for Bananafish – J.D. Salinger
  9. Complete Works – Arthur Rimbaud
  10. The Raven Edgar Allan Poe
  11. Nausea – Jean-Paul Sartre
  12. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

When discussing Franz Kafka, Smith added: “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.”

And, when explaining the decision to include Charlotte Sometimes & Two by Penelope Farmer, the Cure frontman disclosed: “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.”

Via: Radical Reads.