Influences: Part 3




This has nothing to do with painting anymore, it's just a laundry list of stuff I really like.





One of the most widely read translations of The Iliad is the one Robert Fagles wrote in 1990. It's magnificent, done in plain, modern English. The introduction by Bernard Knox is very special, too. It interprets the poem and especially Achilles in their own terms and context, for an era perhaps less inclined than any other to understand them.

My favorite translation, though, is the Lang/Leaf/Myers prose version, probably because I read it first. I wonder if its formal King James-ish language isn't slightly more in tune with the original... the thing about Homeric Greek (so they tell me) is that it's a stylized, artificial mixture of dialects that nobody actually spoke. I think it's actually better if it's a little bit difficult to read. When Homer's realism, pathos, and incredibly brutal violence are conveyed in this distant, ceremonial language, it creates a strange contrast, and it somehow seems all the more ancient and sacred.




Loeb Classical Library

These little green and gold books have the Greek is printed on the left (not a lot of use to me, but there it is) and the English on the right. The Latin ones are red, but I never seem to bother with them.




In Search of the Trojan War   by Michael Wood

I first saw this six part TV documentary when I was a kid. It was about the rediscovery of prehistoric civilizations (not quite an oxymoron) in Greece and Anatolia, and the likelihood of a basis in reality for the Trojan War.

It had weird 80's electronic music played over the dusty, sunny landscapes in these ancient, shabby places. If I had become an archaeologist, this show would have been the reason. But I didn't.

The associated book is really surprisingly scholarly.




Alexander the Great   by Robin Lane Fox




Greek sculpture





Roman wall painting









Italian Baroque music












Washington Irving

I like his American stories best, partly because some of them are about relatives on my Grandma's side (well, sort of).




Sherlock Holmes


When I was five I distinctly remember being somewhat disappointed to discover that Sherlock Holmes had not actually existed.

When I was about eight, they started showing the Granada series with Jeremy Brett. Sometimes, when they altered the stories somewhat, they actually came out better than the originals. My most favorite ones are The Musgrave Ritual, The Priory School, and Silver Blaze.

A few of the later episodes are bad, and the last two films are really terrible, but that doesn't affect the rest.




McKim, Mead and White





Charles Platt

My very most favorite American domestic architect.




The Tale of Mr Tod


In one of my favorite pictures, Mr Tod discovers to his fury that Tommy Brock is not in fact dead, but sitting at Mr Tod's kitchen table. There they are, grinning hatefully at each other; immediately after this, they will wreck Mr Tod's kitchen, and then roll down the hill fighting (thus allowing the rabbits to remove the rabbit babies from the oven, uncooked and unharmed).

Sentimental is not a word I would use to describe Beatrix Potter.




The Wind in the Willows




Hilaire Belloc




Any P.G. Wodehouse with Lord Emsworth in it




The Silmarillion




Evelyn Waugh's novels about the War




Julian   by Gore Vidal

I have to admit that I sort of dislike Gore Vidal personally, but this light-infused novel about the last pagan emperor is one of my very favorite books ever written.




Edward Gorey





Vladimir Nabokov




For a Few Dollars More




Dr Strangelove




Clockwork Orange




The Prisoner





This guy...




David Bowie




The Ramones








Animal House




Raiders of the Lost Ark




Blade Runner




Blue Velvet

This movie is like a water main that's simultaneously burst in about five different places.




John Bellairs


These books scared the living bejesus out of me when I was a kid.




Keith Floyd

Cooking shows are a waste of time these days. No one drinks too much, no one ruins dishes or abuses the camera man, and no one is anywhere near as charming and funny and cool as Floyd was.




The 'Burbs




Withnail and I





The Madness of King George




Young Ones







Don't watch this, you will hate it.




Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World




Batman Begins and The Dark Knight




Boards of Canada





Home Movies





Tom Goes to the Mayor


Really don't watch this, you will absolutely hate it.





Copyright © 2011 by Harry Steen