Maurice Sendak, literature’s deeply passionate curmudgeon, whose grumpiness was matched by a warm and tender spirit, left a “wild” legacy of best-selling books, beautiful illustrations, and words that forever touched his readers, young and old. The author’s birthday is tomorrow. We wanted to celebrate Sendak’s life by revisiting some of his greatest and most fascinating interviews. His candidness, sincerity, and humor will never be forgotten.
PBS entered the “strange and wonderful world” of the author in this 2004 interview with Bill Moyers. The host tells Sendak that Joseph Campbell regarded the “roared their terrible roars” scene in Where the Wild Things Are as one of the greatest moments in literature. “Because it’s only when a man tames his own demons that he becomes the king of himself if not of the world,” Moyers expressed. Sendak replied:
“Oh, yes. We’re animals. We’re violent. We’re criminal. We’re not so far away from the gorillas and the apes, those beautiful creatures. So, of course. And then, we’re supposed to be civilized. We’re supposed to go to work every day. We’re supposed to be nice to our friends and send Christmas cards to our parents. We’re supposed to do all these things which trouble us deeply, because it’s so against what we naturally would want to do. And if I’ve done anything, I’ve had kids express themselves as they are, impolitely, lovingly… they don’t mean any harm. They just don’t know what the right way is.”