Everything is Oll Korrect!

An eclectic bibliophile's journal…

What Books Have Most Influenced Me?

Every once in a while, especially when I still had accounts on ask.fm and Curious Cat, someone has asked me what books I’ve read that have most influenced me. It’s a reasonable enough question and seems like one I should be able to answer. After all, I read a lot and come across as a thoughtful person, and many posts on this blog are essentially my public attempts at trying to better understand what I read. However, there really isn’t one good answer. For one thing, I believe I’ve been influenced far more by the sum of many books and experiences than just a handful that I could easily enumerate. Also, much depends on what exactly we mean by “influence.”

For example, the obligatory answer to this question from any Christian is “the Bible.” By one measure of influence, this certainly is the answer in that it’s the one book I trust more than any other on the most important issues. If there’s a question of morality or any related subject and Scripture speaks on it, then I’m going to follow Scripture. There’s no doubt that it has also affected my beliefs in preferences in matters of art, as well, as Scripture permeates Western literature more than any other source.

I don’t think, though, that the Bible satisfies the question of what book has most influenced me because it hasn’t really changed my beliefs on anything. I was raised Catholic and have never deviated from the Church, so Scripture is more of a framework that other ideas build around and must conform to, similar to a first principle or axiom.…

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2019 in Bibliophilia

It’s the end of the year, and now that the reminiscing and navel-gazing is over it’s time for the most important year-end festivity, looking at how many books I read. In 2018 I read thirty-six, compared to 2017’s forty-two. This year, I have twenty-nine books recorded in LibraryThing, but this excludes eight volumes of Toriyama Akira’s DragonballZ because they’re part of a box set and so, from LibraryThing’s perspective, are only one book. There’s also The Bowl of Tears and Solace, which isn’t in their catalogue at all last I checked. That brings us up to a more typical thirty-eight, two more than last year.

Since I’ve already mentioned DBZ, that, Ito Juni’s Frankenstein, and the second omnibus volume of Go Nagai’s Devilman make up all nine graphic novels I read this year.

I only read three books of poetry, all by Dante: RimeLa Vita Nuova (my second time reading this one), and a collection called Dante’s Lyric Poetry: Poems of Youth and of the ‘Vita Nuova’. Of those, La Vita Nuova is the best and I can recommend Mark Musa’s translation, but Dante’s Lyric Poetry is nice because it includes ample commentary. Speaking of Dante, I also read Marco Santagata’s fine biography Dante: The Story of his Life and Dante’s prose work on vernacular poetry, De Vulgari Eloquentia, which was more tedious and less interesting, and less focused on poetry, than I’d hoped. Another great poet, Homer, was represented in The Printed Homer: A 3,000 Year Publishing and Translation History of the Iliad and the Odyssey, by Philip Young. One last work of serious literature worth mentioning was Fables françaises du Moyen-Age.

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2019: Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!

Oh yeah, I have a blog, don’t I? As I recall, I typically write annual year-in-review posts so maybe I should do that. There hasn’t been much action on Everything is Oll Korrect! in 2019, especially in the latter half, due to school, work, and other commitments (which we’ll get to shortly), and for the last couple weeks illness. As I write, my eyes itch and I can’t breathe through my right nostril, but such is my dedication to the millions and millions of the Ocelot’s fans that I’m going to write at least this one post. I’ll run through the articles I did publish this year, then spend the bulk of this article talking about one of my favourite subjects, me.

So, I wrote all of seventeen posts in 2019. For comparison, in 2018 I wrote fifty-seven. I started the year with William Cecil and his lovely New Year’s Day poem about addressed to his daughter. Several other posts would also cover poetry, including articles about Dante’s friend Guido Cavalcanti, Cavalier Sir John Denham, 19th Century French poet Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (which also features my attempt at translating her poem “Rendez-vous”), and medieval troublemaker François Villon, who I liked enough to write about in French and EnglishEverything also featured two articles about poets, one on Homer and one on Dante.

In the world of prose, we have a fine children’s adaptation of Moby Dick, as well as contemporary novel The Bowl of Tears and Solace. As for non-fiction, we have the helpful Confession Made Easy and John Carter’s classic book about books, ABC for Book Collectors. Graphic novels found representation in Ito Junji’s excellent adaptation of Frankenstein and Go Nagai’s original Devilman. Video games also made an appearance thanks to a review of Ogre Battle 64, and non-video games made their Everything debut with the happy game of mahjong. Content may have been sparse in 2019 but variety was not as even professional wrestling made an appearance. Finally, back in July I gave a status report for those wondering “What’s the news, where ya been?

With such a variety of articles to choose from it’s hard to pick a best of the year, but my coverage of “Rendez-vous” was the most fun to write since translation was a new challenge for me. “The Happy Game of Mahjong” accomplished its purposes the best, and my review of The Printed Homer was overall the best of 2019.

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Frankenstein (Actually, it’s Ito Junji’s Monster)

When I pick up a story by prolific horror artist Ito Junji, there are two things I expect: It’s gonna be good, and it’s gonna be gross. There are a few exceptions at least to the latter point, but his adaptation of Frankenstein delivers on both fronts. If you’re looking for a manga to read for Halloween but want something more classic than Uzumaki or Gyo, this will be a solid choice.

Since comics are a visual medium let’s start with the art. Every panel is filled with detail, and the heavy linework and monochrome colour make the whole story feel appropriately dark and uneasy. Panel layouts are effective throughout the work, and the design of the monster is excellent. Perhaps this sentiment comes from reading it so recently, but thinking through other designs for Frankenstein’s monster, like the 1931 film or Hammer’s movie series among many others, this may be my favourite. He looks appropriately terrifying and obviously stitched-together, but also strong and agile as he is in the novel. I was less excited by the human characters, who all look good but not particularly special. I suppose that’s fine, though, since Frankenstein is best kept relatively realistic to aid suspension of disbelief, so wild character designs aside from the monster may call too much attention to themselves.

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