Greatest Literature banner

Douglas Adams

THE AUTHOR | THE WORKS | VIEWS AND QUOTES

Adams picDOUGLAS ADAMS, undated
(Michael Hughes/CC BY-SA 2.0)
Biographical details ▽ Biographical details △

Born
Cambridge, England, 1952

Died
Montecito, California, United States, 2001

Places lived
London, England (1952–1957); Brentwood, Essex (1957–1974); London (1974–1981); Islington (1981–1999); Santa Barbara, California, United States (1999–2001)

Nationality
English

Publications
Novels, radio scripts, screenplays

Genres
Science fiction, satire, humour

Writing language
English

On greatest lists ▽ On greatest lists △
Greatest Literature

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979–1992)

Greatest Novels

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)

Science Fiction

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979–1992)

Greatest English Literature

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979–1992)

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)

On books, writers and writing

1987

[In reply to "What are your main literary influences?"]

Other funny writers, of whom the chief is P.G. Wodehouse, who is, in my opinion, one of the greatest-ever users of the English language—he's sort of the Mozart of the English language, I think. I particularly admire funny writers, because I know how incredibly difficult it is. Evelyn Waugh is very high up there, and Jane Austen. People have this idea that humor is in some way a sort of lesser emotion, which I don't accept at all. I think that good, funny writing is amongst the finest writing of any type, which is why I think that Wodehouse is one of the finest writers who ever lived.

Interview with Gregg Pearlman

1997

The fact is that I don't know where ideas come from, or even where to look for them. Nor does any writer. This is not quite true, in fact. If you were writing a book on the mating habits of pigs, you'd probably pick up a few goodish ideas by hanging around a barnyard in a plastic mac, but if fiction is your line, then the only real answer is to drink way too much coffee and buy yourself a desk that doesn't collapse when you beat your head against it....

When I've got a big writing job to do, I will often listen to the same piece of music over and over again.... The result is that a lot of my ideas come from songs. Well, one or two at least. To be absolutely accurate, there is just one idea that came from a song, but I keep the habit up just in case it works again which it won't, but never mind.

So now you how it's done. Simple, isn't it?

Introduction to The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy comic books

1998

So, there will come a point I suspect at some point in the future where I will write a sixth Hitchhiker book. But I kind of want to do that in an odd kind of way because people have said, quite rightly, that Mostly Harmless is a very bleak book. And it was a bleak book. The reason for that is very simple—I was having a lousy year, for all sorts of personal reasons that I don't want to go into, I just had a thoroughly miserable year, and I was trying to write a book against that background. And, guess what, it was a rather bleak book!

Interview with Matt Newsome

1999

[Re: P.G. Wodehouse]

Master? Great genius? Oh yes. One of the most blissful joys of the English language is the fact that one of its greatest practitioners ever, one of the guys on the very top table of all, was a jokesmith. Though maybe it shouldn't be that big a surprise. Who else would be up there? Austen, of course, Dickens and Chaucer. The only one who couldn't make a joke to save his life would be Shakespeare....

What Wodehouse writes is pure word music. It matters not one whit that he writes endless variations on a theme of pig kidnappings, lofty butlers, and ludicrous impostures. He is the greatest musician of the English language, and exploring variations of familiar material is what musicians do all day.

Introduction to Wodehouse's Sunset at Blandings

2000

People assume you sit in a room, looking pensive and writing great thoughts. But you mostly sit in a room looking panic-stricken and hoping they haven't put a guard on the door yet.

Interview with Brendan Buhler

2001

Now many years ago I invented a thing called The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy. never meant to be a predictive science fiction writer in the mode of say Arthur C. Clarke. My reason for inventing it was purely one of narrative necessity, which is where I had extra bits of story which I didn't know what to do with. I didn't know anything at all about technology in those days and I didn't think twice about any of the issues, so I just made it a bit like things I was already familiar with. It was a bit like a pocket calculator, a bit like a TV remote....

Speech to 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France

On new media

2001

It's important to remember that the relationship between different media tends to be complementary. When new media arrive they don't necessarily replace or eradicate previous types. Though we should perhaps observe a half second silence for the eight-track. — There that's done. What usually happens is that older media have to shuffle about a bit to make space for the new one and its particular advantages. Radio did not kill books and television did not kill radio or movies — what television did kill was cinema newsreel. TV does it much better because it can deliver it instantly. Who wants last week's news?...

Generally, old media don't die. They just have to grow old gracefully. Guess what, we still have stone masons. They haven't been the primary purveyors of the written word for a while now of course, but they still have a role because you wouldn't want a TV screen on your headstone.

Radio series "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Future", BBC Radio

 

THE AUTHOR | THE WORKS | VIEWS AND QUOTES