Explaining Maurice Sendak's Verdi-Inspired Comeback

Sendak tells Dave Eggers why he's writing and illustrating his first book in 30 years

This article is from the archive of our partner .

When we told you back in March that Maurice Sendak was writing and illustrating his first new book in 30 years, we knew certain things about the project, including the title (Bumble Ardy), the plot (an orphaned 9-year-old pig invites other pigs over to party), and the pigs' drink of choice (brine, not wine; "I didn't think I could get away with wine in this day and age," Sendak confessed to The Wall Street Journal). But we were unclear on why the 83-year-old Where The Wild Things Are creator felt the time was right to return to the children's book game.

Sendak tells Dave Eggers in the August issue of Vanity Fair, though, that, as Eggers puts it, "Verdi had something to do with it." Italian romantic composer Giussepe Verdi also found creative inspiration in his 80s. "His glory was in his 80s," Sendak tells Eggers. "A new librettist, Arrigo Boito, came into his life, and he said, ‘Look, Verdi, you can compose better than you’ve done.’ The two operas they collaborated on, Otello and Falstaff, are brilliant....Verdi was malcontent and brooding, and that made me feel better. You can’t write masterpieces in your 80s and be happy too."

As explanations go, that's as good as any, although according to Wikipedia, Verdi was 73 when Otello was first performed in 1887 and 79 when Falstaff debuted in 1893. If Eggers, who wrote the Where The Wild Things Are screenplay, noticed this, he didn't mention it. Instead, the tone of the profile is indulgent, charmed, and respectful, even even when Sendak talks about wanting to kill a woman who called him "the kiddie-book man," and says the book is "obviously the work of a man who has dementia." Sendak has never been boring: head over to Vanity Fair to check out the full piece.

Bumble Ardy goes on sale in September.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.