Saturday, 7 December 2013

Two More Literary References

In Neil Gaiman's Preludes & Nocturnes (New York, 1991), when Morpheus sprinkles dream dust from his pouch into the waters of night, the burning grains remind him of one who:

"...fell, his face undefeated, his eyes still proud." (p. 107)

John Milton wrote (quoting from memory):

"...Him the Almighty Power
"Hurled headlong flaming from th'ethereal sky,
"With hideous ruin and combustion, down
"To bottomless perdition; there to dwell
"In adamantine chains and penal fire,
"Who durst defy th'Omnipotent to arms."

However, Milton's Satan becomes merely malicious whereas the Gaiman-Carey Lucifer instead becomes detached and ironic. Thus, the Sandman and Lucifer comic books are an alternative rather than a sequel to Paradise Lost.

Next, Morpheus traverses Dantean territory. The cover of Sandman, no 4, "A Hope in Hell," displays burnt pages of the Comedy. When Morpheus enters Hell, he accompanies his demon guide, Etrigan, through the wood of suicides which, since his last visit to Hell, has grown from a tiny grove to a forest and incorporates a recognizably contemporary suicide as a voice from one tree says:

"...all too much. Sandra knew everything. And the papers. So I had to. Pills. Plastic bag. Had to get out. Needed a break. Hurting. Hurting...I thought the hurting would stop." (p. 112)

And, from the forest, a chorus:

"Hurting." "Hurting." "Hurting." "Hurt." "Hurting." "Hurting." "Hurt." "Hurt." "Hurting." (ibid.)

I think we have to carry on for those we knew who decided not to continue.

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