Elric c'est moi, is the short answer. I've written about this in the introductions to the new Del Rey editions of the Elric stories. Elric was the 'me' I was as a late teenager -- like many teenagers -- angsty, self-blaming, feeling I was doing harm to others around me and so on. Unlike many of my characters (Moonglum, E's sidekick, for instance) Elric wasn't based on a real person, apart from myself, but on a sort of melange of fictitious characters. Melmoth the Wanderer, Maturin's great Gothic character, is the most obvious. I read a lot of Romantic and Gothic literature in my teens, as well as various mythologies, and the notion of the doomed character, who must find another to carry his burden, appealed to me. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress had a great influence on me as a lad, too! It was the first book I bought with my own money (though coming from what was essentially a secular home) and of course I was attracted to the pictures. The Doré illustrated Milton was another book I bought early. I suppose all those characters have to be aspects of myself, at different stages of my life, but weren't influenced by fiction the way parts of Elric were. His basic character and appearance were based on Zenith the Albino, a hero-villain who fought Sexton Blake, an English pulp detective whom I enjoyed (especially in his 1920s and 30s adventures) and who I came to, by strange chance, through my early enjoyment of P.G.Wodehouse! A Blake writer, Edwy Searles Brooks, tended to write in imitation of Wodehouse so when I ran out of Psmith and Jeeves I found something almost as good in Brooks (who, I discovered, was a near neighbour of mine as a boy). ERB and ESB could be called my twin literary midwives.
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