Neil Gai­man’s my­tho­lo­gy

Ques­tions/ré­ponses avec l’écri­vain an­glais.

Vocable (Anglais) - - Sommaire - (Sasha Ma­slov/The New York Times)

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.

(Sasha Ma­slov/The New York Times)

Neil Gai­man in New York.

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