Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, died last month. Sendak also wrote other children’s books, including The Little Bear series, and designed sets for many operas. The New York Times called Sendak “the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century” and author Neil Gaiman said, “He was unique, grumpy, brilliant, gay, wise, magical and made the world better by creating art in it.”
Sendak kept that he was gay a secret from his parents. He lived with Dr. Eugene Glynn for 50 years until Glynn died.
This is an appropriate blog to mention my new book, The Enneagram of Death, which will be published in a few weeks by the International Enneagram Association. The IEA will use its profits to expand work on the Enneagram.
Postscript by Mariana Cook in the May 12, 2012 New Yorker consists of an edited interview she did with Sendak in 2009 in which he appears to be an Enneagram Romantic type. He says, “I wish I didn’t know how old I was. This is far more than I expected, far more than I need, far more than I desire. I didn’t think I’d live this long.
“I never got along with my parents. I didn’t feel as though they were my parents. I felt more parent affection coming from my brother and sister. I was very lucky to have two siblings of opposite sexes, so I could have another mother and another father and ones I really adored. My father connected me with the Wall Street crash. I don’t know quite what that meant but it was part of the guilt of having me. And then there was all the Holocaust stuff. My only memory of my mother is of her crying and pulling her hair out literally, because people were dying in Europe…
“I was born in 1928. Same year as Mickey Mouse, but he made out better—straight to Hollywood, straight to the cosmetic department. I did not approve of his buying into all that crap and letting his soul get despoiled. I remained poor and depressed, as a Brooklyn child should. Mickey wasn’t depressed but anyone who looked like him should have been. He became a schmuck, a very famous schmuck. And God knows I adored him, but I was a schmuck, too. I lived in Brooklyn.”
Romantics frequently feel ashamed and have periods of depression. All Romantics aren’t all the same, of course, but some have the habit Sendak had of keeping the meaning of some of what they say mysterious, possibly so they’ll appear more knowledgeable/superior to the person they’re speaking with. If the other feels ashamed (for not knowing what is impossible to know), this Romantic can hope to find solace in the other feeling even worse than he or she does.
Sendak goes on to say, “People do say awfully nice things [about my books], but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a stinky person by nature… It’s hard to be happy. Some people have the gift of pulling themselves up and out and saying there is more to life than just tragedy. And then there are those who can’t, and I’m one of them. Do you believe it when people say they’re happy?”