It's a peccadillo but I have to confess that I sometimes listen to old episodes of Desert Island Discs while I'm doing insufferably boring things like cleaning the bathroom. So at the weekend I was listening to Alison Lurie talking to Roy Plomley.
What I've read of Lurie I liked, though she came over on the show as uptight and humourless. No matter, it's the kind of setting that doesn't always bring out the best in people. What surprised me though is what she had to say about Imaginary Friends.
Plomley asked her directly whether the novel was based on anything in particular, or words to that effect. Yes, she answered, it was influenced by Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance and by Henry James' The Bostonians. OK, I can see the former and I'll take the latter on trust, but I always thought the most important influence in the everyday sense of the word was Festinger, Riecken and Schachter's When Prophecy Fails. I mean, it's virtually a fictional retelling of the same events.
At least that's what I always used to tell my students when I was trying to fake some knowledge of ethnographic fieldwork. Maybe I was wrong or maybe she was thinking about influence in some deeper literary sense than my literal minded interpretation. Still, very odd.