Posts Tagged ‘ Philip Pullman ’

10 Literary Works That Have Influenced Me: Part Two

So I managed to get the first half of this list done yesterday and, as promised, I’ve decided to get the second half done as soon as possible. I’ve spent some time thinking about all these entries and I think I’ve managed to come up with the final draft. Also I think I got a few followers following my last post, if you’re reading this I’m very glad you liked it. It looks like literary content is more in demand than video game stuff, or maybe it was the easier-to-read formatting that caught eyes. Either way, I present the second half of the 10 literary works that have influenced me.

6 – Isaac Asimov, I, Robot

I tried to read I. Robot when I was quite young and I didn’t really grasp what was going on. I left the book alone for a couple of years and later came back to it. I was enthralled by the ideas contained within the novel, some of the best science fiction I have ever read. If you’ve only seen the film I endeavor to recommend the book heartily. The book is made up of multiple short stories whilst the film elongates one, although perhaps the most interesting, of these stories into a feature presentation of Will Smith jumping around and shooting at things. Perhaps the second worst use of science fiction intellectual property I have come across. Anyway, Asimov’s book deals with a fascinating ideal that has been explored by science fiction; the ideals and morals of artificial intelligence. I, Robot brings up fascinating implications of the development of AI, and the morals that surround humanity ‘playing God’. A collection of interesting stories combined with the raising of fascinating moral queries around the subject matter make this a great read in my eyes. Influential to me because it got me really interested in science fiction and its messages and the questions it raises have stayed with me for a long time. A lot of sci-fi writers owe a lot of Isaac Asimov and after reading this book I can understand why.

7 – Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials Trilogy

This is another series from my childhood and a memorable one at that. Unfortunately Pullman’s trilogy (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) tends to get somewhat drowned under the leviathan of children’s literature that is Harry Potter. Pullman’s fantasy world is fascinating and introduces many concepts over the trilogy. At it’s heart it is a coming-of-age romance tale spread over a race to save existence as we know it. It sounds simpler than it is, trust me. What most influenced me about this series (other than the detailed and unique world Pullman creates) is the interactions with religion. This is a theme that I have been continually interested in in literature and I really like the approach Pullman takes. There are a lot of themes running through the books that fit in well with spirituality and Christian religion, since then I’ve very much appreciated literature that deals with religion in a thoughtful manner, or just without straight out derision. Humour is fine, Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) mocks Christianity and I think that book is amazing because it does it in a way that is not dismissive. On top of all this the series is well written, interesting and very unique. Definitely underrated children’s fiction.

8 – Terry Pratchett, Truckers

If you’ve been reading carefully you may have noticed I’ve mentioned Terry Pratchett twice already in this list, that may hint to you how much I enjoy Pratchett’s work. He has written an awful lot of books and I have read a lot of them. Truckers was, from what I remember, my introduction to Pratchett (it may have been The Carpet People). I think I read it for the first time at a young age because I struggled with anything in The Discworld, I’m gonna say that was because I struggled with the concept of a completely fantastical world and I needed familiar points of reference to be able to grasp the stories. Yes, I may have been that young. TruckersDiggers, and Wings are all neat little books with a basic story about some gnomes who are struggling in a world (our world) that is far too big for them. The books are fairly simplistic and, although far from without humour, is not as funny as his repeated parodies of fantasy literature found in nearly any of The Discworld books. This was influential to me because it opened a gateway into Pratchett through which I entered with aplomb. This humble little book and series got me hooked and I’ve never looked back.

9 – Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

The only play in this list and it deserves it’s play very much. I’m not the hugest fan of reading play scripts, obviously the medium is best experienced through a performance but this I loved this play before I even saw it in a theatre. This tragic story of a failed American dream is truly distressing and incredibly sad. The characters are all fantastic and the themes running through the play are well handled and interesting. Ideas of family life, father and son relationships and, most of all, the aforementioned American dream are all dealt with and explored to great effect. A frankly harrowing vision of the dangers of believing in the wealth brought by chasing the bright lights of America. Whilst the main theme is not too subtle, although I did study this play at school, the play is multifaceted thematically and is well worth a read through or, even better, seeing it performed live. There’s also a great film with Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich if you’re that way inclined.

10 – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Devils

This book influenced me very recently. I initially picked it up because it is a fictionalisation of what my BA in History dissertation was roughly about, Dostoyevsky was very much a commentator of the period and his outlet for his thoughts were his novels and so I thought I should read it. Whilst not terribly historically accurate, although broadly correct, the book drew me in like nothing has for a while. The detail poured into the novel is admirable and the style of story telling is something I have not come across too much. The story of a secret anarchistic society developing in Russia is very engaging, although I may have benefited from studying the context in great detail. This is influential to me because it has awoken an interest in the Russian literary classics and now I have another Dostoyevsky and some Tolstoy which require my attention. It’s a really great book but I would say to others to approach with caution because my enjoyment may have come partly through my very detailed understanding of the real historical event the story is based on.

Well, that’s all done. Thank you to anyone who read all that, it means a lot. Quickly, some honourable mentions that I loved reading but didn’t feel they influenced me in the same way the above texts did.

Honourable Mentions: Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita. William Shakespeare, Macbeth. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness. J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye. Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl series.

 

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