Pline #1

La grande fresque historique par l’auteure de Thermae Romae.

“Pline était un naturaliste de la Rome antique dont la vie entière fut guidée par une imagination sans limite et un amour inconditionnel de la recherche. Son Histoire naturelle est une encyclopédie monumentale née d’une inextinguible soif de connaissance appliquée à l’ensemble des phénomènes se produisant sur notre planète. Aujourd’hui, nous ne disposons que de très peu de sources nous permettant de nous faire une idée de l’homme qu’était Pline, aussi devons-nous nous en remettre à notre imagination. Un exercice qui, personnellement, me donne la chaire de poule ! Comme j’aimerais que nous puissions remonter dans le temps, mon complice de choc et moi-même, afin de vivre en immersion dans le monde de celui que je considère aujourd’hui comme un mentor !” — Mari Yamazaki (rabat de couverture intérieur et site de l’éditeur)

J’ai découvert ce superbe manga par un article dans un numéro récent d’Animeland. Pline (titre original: プリニウス / Plinius ) est une biographie du naturaliste romain Pline l’Ancien par Mari Yamazaki (Thermae Romae) et Miki Tori. Prépublié au Japon par Shinchôsa dans le périodique Shinchô 45, ce manga seinen, qui est toujours en cours, a déjà cinq tomes de paru au Japon dont trois ont été traduit en français par Casterman.

Le premier volume débute avec Pline s’apprêtant à évacuer Pompéi lors de l’éruption du Vésuve en 79. Il ne se presse pas, prend le temps de prendre un bain et de manger avec son hôte, Pomponianus, car il veut sans doute observer l’éruption aussi longtemps que possible. Il semble n’avoir aucune crainte, contrairement à son scribe, Euclès. Le chapitre suivant nous raconte, en flashback, comment Pline a rencontré Euclès. La maison de celui-ci venait d’être détruite par une éruption de l’Etna et Pline était de passage en Grande-Grèce (Sicile) pour inspecter les lieux et faire office de gouverneur substitut. En mal d’un scribe pour prendre en notes ses observations, il engage Euclès, qui a une formation de grammairien. Toutefois il doit couper court à sa tournée lorsque l’empereur Néron, qui souhaite sa présence pour un concert, le rappel à Rome. Il choisit cependant de rentrer non par bateau mais par la route, ce qui lui permettra de continuer à faire des observations.

Le récit est entrecoupé par ce qui se passe à Rome, à la cour de Néron: les cauchemar que lui laissent encore les souvenirs d’une mère dominatrice, sa concubine Poppée qui le presse pour le mariage et que faire de sa femme, Octavie, qu’il a exilé dans l’île de Pandataria ? Il nous est présenté comme un artiste troublé, au caractère instable, qui n’est pas fait pour diriger un état mais qui est bien entouré, notamment par Vespasien. Après un arrêt à Puteoli pour un bain, Pline arrive enfin à Rome. Il habite dans un quartier mal famé, où se côtoient voleurs et prostitués. Il y rencontre par hasard Néron… Le volume se termine sur une interview avec les auteurs, qui discutent la genèse de leur manga.

Après avoir complété Thermae Romae, Mari Yamazaki voulait faire quelques choses de sérieux sur la Rome Antique et Pline s’est offert comme un sujet tout naturel. Elle s’inspire beaucoup (et cite abondamment) son Histoire Naturelle (Historia Naturalis), une sorte d’encyclopédie en trente-sept volumes qui rassemble la somme du savoir romain de l’époque et qui nous est maintenant très utile pour comprendre cette grande civilisation de l’antiquité. Toutefois, les hypothèse scientifiques de Pline ne sont pas toujours très solides, tombant parfois dans le farfelu et il inclut dans son ouvrage la description de créatures mythologiques comme si elles étaient véritables. Mais même cela nous en dit beaucoup sur la mentalité romaine, prompte à la superstition.

Normalement, les mangas sont le fruit du travail d’un dessinateur et d’un scénariste. Toutefois, dans ce cas-ci, il s’agit de deux artistes: non pas un artiste qui travail avec des assistants (comme c’était le cas pour Thermae Romae) mais bien deux artistes qui collaborent ensemble. Mari Yamazaki se charge du storyboard et du dessin des personnages, alors que Tori Miki se charge de dessiner en détails les paysages et les décors. Yamazaki semble intéressé à établir une corrélation entre la Rome antique et le Japon: déjà avec Thermae Romae elle avait traité de leur engouement mutuel pour les bains publiques et, avec Pline, elle exploite le fait que ces deux civilisations ont sans doute une certaine affinité car elles ont tous deux eut à vivre avec la constante menace des catastrophes due aux séismes et aux volcans: les éruptions du Vésuve et de l’Etna en Italie et les tremblements de terre de Kōbe (1995), de Tōhoku (2011) et Kumamoto (2016) au Japon.

Évidemment, l’histoire de Pline n’est pas un manga qui va passionner tout le monde car on n’y retrouve pas d’action ou de combats mais il offre un sujet très humain sur la curiosité, la découverte de l’univers qui nous entoure et la recherche constante de connaissances. C’est un récit biographique où l’on suit trois personnages: Pline, bien sûr, mais aussi son secrétaire Euclès et l’empereur Néron. On découvre peu à peu leur caractère, leur psychologie. C’est aussi une façon assez extraordinaire de découvrir la civilisation romaine et l’oeuvre de Pline. C’est vraiment intéressant, passionnant même, pour un amateur de manga historique. Et il ne faut surtout pas oublier la superbe qualité artistique du travail de Yamazaki et Miki. En conclusion, ce manga est un incontournable pour tout amateur d’histoire, de Rome et, bien sûr, de Yamazaki !

Extraits: pages 49, 52-53 et 88
Pline, vol. 1: L’appel de Néron, par Mari Yamazaki et Tori Miki. Paris: Casterman (Coll. Sakka), Jan. 2017. 200 pg, 13 x 18 cm, 8,45 € ($15.95 Cnd), ISBN: 978-2-203-13243-6.

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Pline © 2014 Mari Yamazaki, Tori Miki. © 2017 Casterman pour la traduction française.

Commentaire repris sur Goodreads et Les Irrésistibles

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Monthly notable news (w20-25)

On the domestic front, after much hesitation, the summer has finally arrived. At work, it is crazier than ever with the start of the vacation loan, the TD summer reading club, the twenty-days of amnesty, the summer clean-up and all this often in a sweatshop-like environment (hot and humid, because the ventilation and AC doesn’t work properly). It is so exhausting. I’ve applied for a job with more responsibilities (and pay) but flunked the interview (for the second time!). I am either good for nothing else or there’s something rotten in the HR kingdom.

I felt quite depressed lately. With all the problems with the house and at work, as well as the fact that I have not written or read much in several months, it’s no surprise. I come back from work with all my energy spent. I feel worthless. I feel I give a lot to the people around me and doesn’t get much (attention, respect, gratitude, etc.) in return. I hate it when dark thoughts keep me from enjoying life. But, hey!, it’s summer so lets enjoy the sun, the parks, the museums, the flowers, the cats, the people and particularly the few remaining days of my second ten-day summer vacation. There’s lot to do around the house and so much writing (hopefully) to catch up (I’ll try to go at it with smaller bites)!

In the news, Apple has announced some great software updates (iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, watchOS 4) and some new products (iMac & MacBook Pro, or iPad Pro updates, as well as a new iMac Pro and the HomePod, a speaker that they say will reinvent music at home) and my evenings have been consumed with listening to the latest Trump craziness on MSNBC. Everyday brings a new lie! More on the news in the links bellow…

I have always enjoyed the stray cats in my backyard but this year it is a real infestation: a battered dominant male [Toffee], two females (mother [Grisou] and daughter [Chaussette/Socks], their FIVE kittens and a couple of tomcat challengers. That’s TEN cats! They have laid waste to the backyard garden so I had to do something to control the situation. Unfortunately, the lack of consistent animal management policies in the city (and particularly in this borough, VSP) puts all the burden on the citizen and doesn’t give much help. My only option is to bring them to the Berger Blanc (which has a terrible reputation and an almost all-kill policy — also, for some mysterious reasons [$$?], my borough doesn’t deal with the SPCA) which I refuse to do. So far, I’ve caught all the females and their kittens, and I’ll see what I can do from there (any suggestions?)…

I’ve also started taking some omega-3 supplements, which (according to an NHK World report) is supposed to be good against cholesterol and dementia, amongst other things (like cancer or arthritis). It’s messing up with my digestion, but strangely I feel that my mind is a little clearer. Placebo effect? Anyway, we’ll see…

Strangely, I kept busy during the last month by doing lots of little things (cleaning up the garage, buying a new couch, burying my mother’s ashes, etc. — daily routine stuff) about which there’s little to say (or I just can’t recall some of them). I confess that I also probably watch too much TV. Anyway, that’s about it for now…

Although, as always, I continued to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered nearly a hundred notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly separated in a few categories of interest), after the jump.

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Weekly notable news (w17-19)

Another few weeks have passed quickly without anything significant happening: More crazy weeks at works and rainy week-ends where I don’t feel I accomplished anything. I am tired and really need a longer vacation. Next week I’ll start a ten-day holiday where I’ll be able to rest (sleep late!), catch up on stuff (writing, work around the house), travel around (Ottawa’s Tulip’s festival, Quebec City, botanical garden, museums, the libraries book sale, bury my mother’s ashes, etc.) and, above all, completely forget about work for a while. Or so I thought!

In hope for greener pastures, I have applied for a new library job (more responsibilities, further from home, but a greater challenge for my skills and a much better salary). However, after a lengthy processus, they scheduled an interview right in the middle of my vacation and at nine o’clock on the morning of my BIRTHDAY! Not only they made me filled a psychological test online (it’s called “an inventory of personality” and it will probably reveal that I am a total psycho) but they didn’t even bother to reply when I asked if it was possible to reschedule, so I’ll do my best to be there and we’ll see. Que sera, sera.

The weather has really been lousy lately. May is supposed to be the nicest month of all (and not only because it’s my birthday). Overall, it has been cold and rainy. It even snowed a little last week. In may! Hopefully, it will not portend that the summer will be likewise, and it will soon improve (at least for my vacations, please!).

Something strange happened at the beginning of the month: out of the blue, one late afternoon, I started to smell a vague odour of gazoline in the basement. It didn’t come from the obvious source, the garage. Usually, such smell comes from the sewage (through a dried P-trap) or from a dead animal but, in this case, it seemed to come from the pit of the water-pipe entry. I called the city and was told not to worry, it was “probably” not toxic and might have come from some work on the pipes in the neighbourhood (I couldn’t locate any nearby). I cracked open a window and the next morning it was gone. I never knew what it was.

The unlucky streak didn’t stop there. Not only I broke a piece of tooth while eating a granola bar during my lunch break at work (and I am still waiting for the dentist to find some spare time for an appointment), but I also discovered that the damage to the rear balcony of the house is more extensive than I first thought. The supporting posts are not planted deep enough (they rest on concrete supports that are just on the surface while they should be in soil deep enough so it never freezes in winter — who are the morons who built this house?!) so the ground expansion due to the freezing is slowly ripping the balcony off the house. So much that it has now become worrisome. We will have to do the repairs sooner than expected and it will probably be quite costly! What an exciting boring life!

Again, I must remind myself not to let the outside world rattle my core. Carpe diem, my boy, carpe diem!

Finally, I managed to stay acquainted with some of the affairs of the world and gathered notable news & links of interest — which I share with you (in both french or english, and organized into a few basic categories), after the jump.

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Monthly notable news (W12-16)

Another month (or so) has passed at lightning speed. Lots of stuff to do, particularly now that spring has come. We had plenty of rain at first, however now the weather is more enjoyable but still a little chilly. The humidity has made my left knee (and a bit my right ankle) hurt and, for a week, my back pain came back with a vengeance — libraries can be hard work sometimes (and not only for the soul; although it can be amusing too). I also had an episode of high blood glucose and I feared I would become a full-blown diabetic but it returned to my pre-diabetic “normal” after a week. This is no work for old men…

It has been a busy month. We’ve visited the notary twice for mom’s succession paperwork and there was plenty of work around the house particularly for the garden cleaning. I also had to deal with many unexpected problems: some strange Bell bug kept me from my blog for a week and I had some leaky roof, front door handle and water heater issues (the latter two just this weekend). Installing two more Outdoor Nest Cams (as one of my cheap IP cameras died following water damage inside the window) has been a strain on the Bell Wi-Fi causing serious performance problems. I’ll probably solve this issue by going back to Videotron, but only for the internet (I’ll share my sister’s).

A question on FB made me look back at my collection of old books and share my love for them. I also purchased a new Telephoto Mirror Lens for my camera. My TV viewing habits didn’t change much. I still watch too much TV: the new season for old series (When calls the Heart, Into the Badlands, Doctor Who) but two series are particularly worth mentioning for their quality: Anne and The Expense (and its beautiful opening credits with Norwegian vocals — listen on Soundcloud and Youtube). I also wanted to go see Ghost in the Shell in theatre but the reviews were not too good so I decided to wait. However, I’ll definitely won’t miss the Valerian‘s movie when it is released!

I have always considered blogging (and writing in general) as an essential mental exercice (as much as my daily walks) to keep in shape, the mind sharp and age better. However, now I have some doubt. It sometimes feels like a strain since I have less and less time to do it. I have to split my waking hours between my wife-together time, my me-time and work (from which I always come back exhausted). Lately, I had lots of problems with the blog (the Dropbox issue, not being able to log in for an entire week) and it leaves me with the dilema of having to choose between fixing the layout on the old posts or writing new material (or try to do both and be unhappy with the result). I just wonders if it is really worth it.

Maybe I should try less to DO something and just take more time to enjoy life right now (going to movies, to the museums, to the botanical garden, READ more, etc.) without always thinking about sharing it, what I would say about it, which angle I could use to explain the subject better or tell an interesting story about the whole experience. My health won’t improve with the years and I am quite sure that there is less road in front of me than behind, so maybe I should just take the most of it and enjoy the moment. Who’s reading me anyway. Although, I often say that I am writing for myself, so I can read what I wrote one day and remember how it was (particularly when I would not remember it at all). It is just like a journal left adrift in the binary stream of time, to create some sort of posterity.

Both ways seem kind of selfish: if I do write I feel guilty of not doing more of my life and, if I don’t, I feel I am letting myself down. Either way it is a losing battle. •Sigh* It’s the age-old depressing philosophical question: Did I ever really lived and did it really matter? I can only press on and hope for the best.

Finally, I nevertheless managed to stay acquainted with the (ever so depressing) affairs of the world and gathered a few notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly divided into a few thematics), after the jump.

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Old Books

I love old stuff, particularly coins and books. Unfortunately, I don’t have the enthusiasm of youth, the time to travel nor the money to collect them anymore. Old stuff is now rare, harder to find and, mostly, more expensive. So I have to make do with enjoying what I already have (and sometime sharing this pleasure with others).

Unlike some of my friends, I don’t have really rare stuff (one has a page from a Book of Hours or another has a 1661 french edition of Suetonius!) but I have just a little more than a dozen ancient books that I cherish. Some because they are history books or works of an ancient author, others just because they are old (and despite the fact they are insipid religious documents).

Inspired by a question I was asked on Facebook, I invite you to share my joy after the jump >>
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Monthly notable news (W53-03)

The Holidays and the couple of weeks that followed were rather quiet. Thankfully, I had to deal with much less craziness at work. But that was only the eye of the storm and those depressing days (scientifically certified as such since Blue Monday fell on January 16th this year) are coming to an end. The days are getting longer and more shit will soon hit the fan. Of course, there’s also this endless American nightmare with everything Trump. I wish I could forget about all that and never hear about it again, but unfortunately that’s what the world has become now.

I am already getting behind in my writings, but I caught up a little with my TV and movie watching. Besides the restarting new seasons (mostly Call The Midwife, Colony, Endeavour, Father Brown, Homeland), the notable new additions are Victoria and Dark Angel (although those two have already ended) as well as the weird Young Pope (a young and reckless leader is unexpectedly elected to head the Church — a little reminescent of the whole “orange is the new black” American electoral fiasco — but it’s directed by Paolo Sorrentino, who gave us La grande bellezza) and the quite interesting Mercy Street, a medical period drama set at the Mansion House Hospital during the American Civil War.

I’ll try to reinvent myself this year (so much to do) and push forward even harder on the path to improve my temperament and expend my knowledge. That’s the only purpose one can have.

Despite everything, I tried to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here’s a “few” notable news & links that I came across this month and that I’d like to share with you, after the jump (in no particular order, in both french and english): Continue reading

Découverte: Marie-Antoinette, la jeunesse d’une reine

Sa véritable Histoire, pour la première fois en manga !

“Marie-Antoinette est l’une des personnalités historiques les plus adaptées en fiction. Sophia Coppola, Chantal Thomas ou Riyoko Ikeda… de nombreux créateurs ont donné naissance à un personnage en adéquation avec leurs idéaux.”

“Cependant, quand Fuyumi Soryo s’attaque au mythe, ce n’est pas pour reproduire une énième icône malmenée par la vision trop partiale de Stephan Zweig, mais pour restituer dans la réalité historique une jeune fille dénuée de tout artifice.”

“Avec la précision qu’on lui connaît déjà sur Cesare et grâce au soutien du Château de Versailles, ce n’est plus un simple manga, mais une plongée virtuelle au cœur de la cour au XVIIIe siècle que l’auteur vous offre. Que vous soyez adepte des fresques historiques, lecteur de manga ou tout simplement curieux de nouveauté, ne passez pas à côté de cette création ! D’autant plus que les Éditions Glénat, co-éditeur dans ce projet, auront la chance de publier ce titre en avant-première de sa sortie japonaise !!” (Texte du site de l’éditeur)

Hier, je regardais les nouvelles sur NHK World et on y présentait un reportage sur le tout dernier manga de Mars mais que j’admire tout particulièrement pour ANN, Le Monde) et que je croyais que Soryo travaillais à la suite de Cesare. La mangaka aurait-elle décidé de mettre fin abruptement à Cesare? D’autant plus que l’article de Dante Alighieri (poursuivant sur le sujet de la renaissance Italienne). Mais j’en doute: elle a probablement juste temporairement mis Cesare sur pause afin de travailler sur Marie-Antoinette, qui ne comporte d’ailleurs qu’un seul volume (un “one-shot” comme on dit).

Extrait des pages 10-11, 20-21, 24-25, & 40-41 (lire de droite à gauche):

(Vous trouverez aussi un extrait des cinquante premières pages sur le site de Glénat)

Marie-Antoinette (マリー・アントワネット) est un manga historique seinen qui a d’abord été pré-publié en feuilleton dans Morning (et son pendant digital: D Morning), un magazine hebdomadaire de Kodansha. Il a débuté dans le numéro 38 (18 août 2016) et s’est étalé sur quatre publications (se terminant dans le numéro 41). Chose rare, la publication en volume (tankōbon) s’est faite au Japon en septembre 2016 (ISBN 978-4-06-377337-8, 750円), soit quelques jours après la parution du volume en français!

Malgré certaines critiques négatives en France, on peut s’attendre à un ouvrage d’une grande qualité historique. Soryo est d’ailleurs reconnue pour la qualité de sa documentation, d’autant plus que le projet, co-publié par Kodansha et Glénat, est produit en collaboration avec le Château de Versailles, qui a ouvert ses portes et offert tout son soutient à l’artiste. Le magnifique style rococo qui caractérise l’époque sera donc fidèlement reproduit dans tous ses aspects: la mode, l’architecture, l’étiquette et les moeurs de la court royale, etc.

Si l’on prends pour exemple la qualité de son travail sur Cesare (tant les détails historiques que le travail artistique), on ne sera pas déçu. J’ai déjà commandé le manga et le commenterai dès que je l’aurai lu.

Marie-Antoinette, la jeunesse d’une reine, par Fuyumi Soryo. Paris: Château de Versailles / Glénat (Coll. Seinen), septembre 2016. 180 pg., 9.15 € / $14.95 Can. ISBN: 978-2-344-01238-3. Recommandé pour public adolescent (12+).

Pour plus d’information vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

MARIE-ANTOINETTE © 2016 Fuyumi Soryo / Kodansha Ltd.

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Weekly notable news (week 34)

This last week was rather quiet and a good part of the notable news & links that I found interesting were related to the Montreal World Film Festival which is coming very soon. I’ve spent a lot of my spare time lately finishing my coverage from last year’s festival and preparing to cover its upcoming 40th anniversary edition.

Lots of people are bitching about the festival. Those people want a glamorous festival like Cannes or Toronto, but they really don’t understand the nature of the Montreal’s festival. I am not saying that the MWFF is without flaws (there are aplenty) but I am quite satisfied with what we have here: a quiet, fan-oriented festival that showcase film as an art-form and a vehicle of culture for film-makers from any country, of any age and of various skill levels. Toronto is a commercial festival. I don’t want to see stars that I can see everyday on TV or movies that will be released in theatres two weeks later. I want to see great stories and beautiful movies that I cannot see anywhere else but the MWFF. And there is plenty of stars there too: actors and directors from Japan, Portugal, Iran, Turkey, to name just a few places, and from all over Europe. That’s good enough for me. I just want to enjoy myself, to be amazed and I really don’t care about the politics of it all. I can’t understand why our various level of government want to punish movie fans and not support such a great festival.

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Weekly notable news (week 33)

Here are twenty-five notable news & links that I found interesting, amazing or plain weird (in no particular order & some in French) / Voici vingt-cinq nouvelles et liens notables que j’ai trouvé intéressant, étonnant ou tout simplement bizarre (sans ordre particulier et la plupart en anglais):

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Weekly notable news (week 32)

First, on a personal note: the last few months have been quite trying for me (the summer has zipped past in no time). On top of having to adapt to a new job at an even crazier library, I undertook some (expensive) renovations at home and managing the various team of workers was quite a challenge. And not only I sprained my ankle (with a small fracture) so I had to wear a pneumatic cast for over a month (still do) but I also had to suffer another painful medical problem (won a free game in our pinball’s medical system). And I broke my glasses this morning. It seems that I am in for another anus horribilis. All this left me exhausted physically, mentally and morally. I lost all patience I had left to deal with (stupid) people and the world (tired of Trump and all this violence). To quote Indiana Jones, I am really getting too old for this shit. Therefore, I didn’t write much lately. Sorry.

However, all is not lost. The weather has been beautiful in the last few days and I am starting to feel better (hopefully it will keep improving; think positive: life is good). In the last week or so, I’ve been trying to remedy to this unfortunate neglect in my blogger’s duty. And, since the film festivals season is at our doors, I am starting to put online my movie comments from last year’s MWFF, in order to build up the interest and anticipation (whether the festival happens or not). I hope it’s working.

As always, I also keep myself acquainted with the affairs of the world. So, here are a few notable news & links that I came across this week (in no particular order):

And some Funnies…


Between Friends: Saturday, April 2, 2016

Rhyme with Orange: Monday, April 4, 2016

Ben: Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dilbert: Sunday, April 17, 2016

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