List of Influences on Philip K. Dick

compiled by Frank C. Bertrand

The following statements by Philip K. Dick have been culled from published articles, interviews, and letters that I have access to. I by no means claim completeness. If you know of any corrections and/or additions, please send full particulars to philipkdickfans[at]gmail[dot]com.

1) ”Possibly I have been influenced by too many diverse sources.” (“A Letter From Philip K. Dick,” February 1, 1960, PKDS Pamphlet, No. 1, August 1983, p. 2; The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1938-1971. Grass Valley: Underwood Books, 1996, pp. 55-56)

2) ”I have been deeply influenced by some of the new young Japanese and African writers, plus a number of Russian writers both 19th century and present day, and of course the French writers and the Irish, down to Beckett and Ionesco. And Brecht. And the fantasy writers such as Kafka and the Kapecs.” (ibid., pp. 2-3; ibid., p. 56)

3) ”So you can see you’re up against a thoroughly confused mind, here. One that has been meddled with by a hopeless hodgepodge of influences.” (ibid., p. 3; ibid., p. 56)

4) ”There is a very good course given at Cal on the German Romantics; it goes quite deeply into their work, and it had a great influence on my tastes.” (ltr. dtd: 4/8/67. The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1938-1971. Grass Valley: Underwood Books, 1996, p. 207)

5) ”I have been very much influenced by the thinking of the European existential psychologists, who posit this: for each person there are two worlds, the idios kosmos, which is a unique private world, and the koinos kosmos, which literally means shared world (just as idios means private).” (“Letter of Comment,” SF Commentary, No. 9, February 1970, p. 8; letter dtd. 6/8/69; The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1938-1971. Grass Valley: Underwood Books, 1996, p. 263)

6) ”…(it must be obvious to you by this time that Kant’s concept of the dinge-an-sich [sic] has influenced me, too).” (ibid., p. 9; ibid., p. 263)

7) ”Van Vogt influenced me so much because he made me appreciate a mysterious chaotic quality in the universe which is not to be feared.” (Vertex, Vol. 1, no. 6, February 1974, p. 36)

8) ”I’ve always been much influenced by the 17th-century metaphysical poets like Donne, and especially Henry Vaughan.” (“Even Sheep Can Upset Scientific Detachment,” London Daily Telegraph, July 19, 1974, p. 28)

9) ”I was much influenced by the French “slice of life” realistic writers of the 19th century; and very little by American novels.” (ltr. dtd.: 1/18/77. The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1977-1979. Novato: Underwood-Miller, 1993, p. 8)

10) ”The novels that influenced my writing, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, were the French realistic novels…Flaubert, Stendahl, Balzac, et al. …and the Russian novelists who were influenced by them.” (“An Interview with Philip K. Dick, Part One,” PKDS Newsletter, No. 5, December 1984, p. 6; summer 1977 interview; Philip K. Dick: The Dream Connection, ed. by D. Scott Apel. San Jose: The Permanent Press, 1987, p. 38)

11) ”I liked the short stories of James T. Farrell very much. They had a tremendous influence on me in the short story form.” (“A Conversation with Philip K. Dick,” Science Fiction Eye, Vol. 1, no. 2, August 1987, p. 47; Nov. 1977 interview)

12) ”I was very influenced by the French realist writers.” (ibid., p. 47)

13) ”Were you reading Jung then? Yes. Yes, definitely. He was a major influence on me.” (ibid., p. 51)

14) “I am greatly influenced by Henry Miller, but my purpose was to achieve a new kind of prose, a new kind of blending of the ancient picaresque form with certain modern elements…” (Science Fiction Review, No. 39, Vol. 10, no. 2, February 1981, p. 31; letter dtd. 2/20/81)

15) ”I was very very very influenced by Nathaniel West for a while, and my idea of the American novel — now we’re getting away from the idea of the European novel, the French and Russian and Japanese novel, and into an idiomatic American novel with Nathaniel West…” (“Comments on Confessions Of A Crap Artist,” PKDS Newsletter, No. 29, September 1992, p. 4; March 1981 interview)

16) ”And when I wrote that I was influenced by Nathaniel West. I had read all of Nathanial West, which is real easy as he only wrote four books.” (interview: 4/22/81. Philip K. Dick: In His Own Words, by Gregg Rickman. Long Beach: Fragments West/The Valentine Press, 1984, p. 144)

17) ”And I was influenced by John Sladek on that. Somebody had turned me on to Sladek. And I was just galvanized by the quality of his style.” (interview: 10/12/81. Philip K. Dick: In His Own Words, by Gregg Rickman. Long Beach: Fragments West/The Valentine Press, 1984, p. 64)

3 thoughts on “List of Influences on Philip K. Dick

  1. Such a wide radius of sources,but none of them were really like him and to whom we credit the neologism Dickian.As I’ve said before,John Sladek’s writing career started later than PKD and run concurrent with his,and since the “Roderick” “books” have ideas not dissimilar,he must have been influenced by him much earlier,so at first glance would probably seem an unlikely influence,

    However,I do know that Dick admired Sladek,so obviously gained something from him.What can be called Dickian though about his stuff,I wouldn’t know,and any resemblance,could probably be called parallel development.

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