06 November 2007

Like ice cream

Neil Gaiman on the history of fairy tales and Stardust:
I was fortunate in having Charles Vess, to my mind the finest fairy artist since Arthur Rackham, as the illustrator of Stardust, and many times I found myself writing scenes - a lion fighting a unicorn, a flying pirate ship - simply because I wanted to see how Charles would paint them. I was never disappointed.

The book came out, first in illustrated and then in unillustrated form. There seemed to be a general consensus that it was the most inconsequential of my novels. Fantasy fans, for example, wanted it to be an epic, which it took enormous pleasure in not being. Shortly after it was published, I wound up defending it to a journalist who had loved my previous novel, Neverwhere, particularly its social allegories. He had turned Stardust upside down and shaken it, looking for social allegories, and found absolutely nothing of any good purpose.

"What's it for?" he had asked, which is not a question you expect to be asked when you write fiction for a living.

"It's a fairytale," I told him. "It's like an ice cream. It's to make you feel happy when you finish it."

I don't think that I convinced him, not even a little bit. There was a French edition of Stardust some years later that contained translator's notes demonstrating that the whole of the novel was a gloss on Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, which I wish I had read at the time of the interview. I could have referred it to the journalist, even if I didn't believe a word.
(via Crooked House)

["And Into Faerie" image from Charles Vess' "Stardust Print Suite"]

1 comment:

C.M. Mayo said...

Lovely picture.