Yet another example that just because an author isn't considered mainstream, or intellectual, doesn't mean that they don't have deep academic influences.
Something that was recently brought to my attention was J.K. Rowling's inspiration of the "three brothers and Death" folktale told by Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. According to two different sources I've researched, the parable was inspired by The Pardoner's Tale of Geoffrey Chaucer's Middle English epic poem Canterbury Tales.
I remember as I read that folktale that I thought it seemed vaguely familiar, but I didn't put it together until I read that above little bit of information. So I'm happy to have learned that Rowling not only read Canterbury Tales, but that she enjoyed it so much she modeled part of her fiction after it, and thereby indirectly exposing millions of children and adults to one of the greatest poems in the English language. Unfortunately many of Rowling's readers, adults and children, have never heard of the epic tale and will never read it, thus robbing themselves of a beautiful piece of historic poetry.
If given the chance, you should read Chaucer's work, or at least The Pardoner's Tale. At first, it may be difficult to read because of the archaic spellings*, but the more you read from it, the easier it gets. I promise you, you'll find it very rewarding.
Until Next Time...
*There were no dictionaries in the 14th century, so each author could spell a word any way they wanted. Some were known to spell the same word multiple ways throughout long texts.