Client’s Name Class Date Neil Gaiman and Modern Myth Introduction The stories that Neil Gaiman writes are filled with mythological wonder where he draws from ancient stories in order to recreate them in ways that are modern and relevant…
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T. S. Eliot once wrote about the nature of writing and that in the act of writing, the past and the present merge. Gaiman creates worlds in which the past and the present come together in order to examine modern life in relationship to those belief systems that have come before and have influences on the present. Without the use of past texts in order to create his fantastical works, Gaiman’s work would not connect on the level that it currently does and not have the essence of human existence that is reflected in his work. Influence One of the things a good reader will notice about well written fiction is that it is founded on influences that are highly recognizable and filled with wonder that extends the work rather than burdening it with the words of others. Sometimes popular fiction will suddenly make a reference that has little meaning but adds a bit of pop culture flavor to the writing. This does not always enhance the writing, but will sometimes burden the reader as they try to decide what the author means and why it was necessary to increase the value of the writing. In the case of a really good writer, however, references from all time periods will flow into the work, creating depth and meaning that expands upon the writing rather than weighting it down. This is the skill with which Neil Gaiman delights his readers. Gaiman uses mythologies in order to expand the universes in which he places his stories. By referencing the worlds of ancient texts, he is enriching his work while giving it a very modern sense of the mythical world. The questions that are asked by using these worlds are answered through modernized prose in which vernacular language and modernized events are connected to aspects of the myths that he is using to enrich his work. Much of what is reflected in his work comes from Greek myths. The sense of multiple gods and complex mythologies, combined with emotions that are translated into the actions of those representing god-like manifestations provides an interesting backdrop to the work he creates. T. S. Elliot worked as an unassuming bank clerk by day, but by night was forging literary greatness as he created works that have inspired generations. Bloom writes that “Elliot’s aim was to compose an extended collection of poems that would denounce modern civilization and capture the disillusionment of his postwar generation” (Bloom 4). In discussing literature, the following quote can be attributed to him: Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour. It involves, in the first place, the historical sense, which we may call nearly indispensable to anyone who would continue to be a poet beyond his twenty-fifth year; and the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence; the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order (Eliot and Kermode 38). In a way, Eliot was commenting on the nature of time in that it is not so much a linear concept, but a loop in which all things of the past are present in how life is conducted. What was written in the past influences how what is written today manifests. Without mythologies of the past, the present has no real depth. A
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