Neil Gaiman’s mythology
Questions/réponses avec l’écrivain anglais.
Neil Gaiman est un auteur prolifique. Romans, nouvelles, bandes dessinées, séries télévisées, films : cet Anglais au fan club mondial sait tout faire. Dans son nouveau livre, La Mythologie Viking, paru en France Au Diable Vauvert, il revisite la légende des dieux scandinaves… Rencontre.
Q: I understand you first got interested in Norse mythology through comic books. What was it about the stories that attracted you? A: I would have been 7 years old at the time and there were these English reprints of American comic books. My first encounter with Thor would have been the Jack Kirby-Stan Lee book with (crippled doctor) Don Blake trapped in a cave, finding a stick and slamming it down on the ground and it turning into the hammer of Thor and then he transforms into the mighty Thor. I loved this. I spent the next couple of years banging every stick I found onto the ground just to see if it would transform into the hammer. It didn’t, but I now had a complete fascination with Norse mythology. Then I got hold of an English book for children called “Myths of the Norsemen,” by Roger Lancelyn Green. This was something much rougher-hewn, and also much darker and weirder. Now Thor was this redbearded hulking lout with a hammer who could out-drink you and out-fight you. Loki, instead of being a god of mischief, was a strange, compli- cated entity. Odin was shadowy and everything was all about the end of the world. I was hooked.
2.Q: Why did you decide to do your own versions? A: I’ve been retelling Norse myths in my own way for many, many years. I put Norse characters into “Sandman.” When I was researching “American Gods,” I went back to the original sources, to the prose Edda and the poetic Edda, and I became fascinated even more. I just loved the myths. But it wasn’t until I had lunch about eight years ago with an editor and he asked if I had any interest in retelling these stories for a new generation that I decided it would be an interesting thing to do. And it took me about four years of thinking and hesitating and trying to figure out what kind of language I would use, whether or not I wanted to include the poetry, how I would do this. In each case, what I wanted to do was really play absolutely fair with the stories we had in the original sources.
3.Q: What were you comfortable making up? A: I may give characters motivations, they may now have an interior world, you may know what they are thinking, but I’m not changing the story. It’s almost as if you are telling a joke. You may have read a joke or someone told you a joke and you remember the shape of it. You know where you are heading with the punchline. But how you tell the joke is up to you.
Neil Gaiman in New York.