Because of the transcendental nature of his writing, almost every dialogue by Neil Gaiman can be considered a noteworthy quote. Starting from the modern epic, American Gods to the children’s dark fantasy novel, The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman has sprinkled several quotes that are highly memorable in every novel. These quotes are gems in the Neil Gaiman world, and they capture the general style and genre of his works perfectly.
The Passage of Time
Every hour wounds. The last one kills.
This line is taken from American Gods. The quote captures how the Old Gods are slowly fading away into oblivion in the new world. Contrary to one’s expectations, the Old Gods do not become powerful, and they do not gather more followers over time. Instead, they grow weaker and weaker as each hour passes. Every hour that passes by in the world is a deep and personal injury to the Old Gods, and finally, the last hour ends up killing them, allowing for the New Gods to then take over.
Soon I was driving, slowly, bumpily, down a narrow lane with brambles and briar roses on each side, wherever the edge was not a stand of hazels or a wild hedgerow. It felt like I had driven back in time. That lane was how I remembered it, when nothing else was.
This passage is taken from The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It occurs in the Prologue and is narrated from the unnamed man’s perspective. He marvels at the fact that everything in his life has changed, but his childhood town has remained the same. This is a poignant musing on how life usually is for most people. People think that a lot has changed from their childhood days when in reality, their roots remain the same.
The passage also highlights how sometimes we might change dramatically with time, but things around us remain the same. We outgrow familiar spaces and familiar people, causing us to feel like we are “driving back in time” when we visit the same spaces once again.
How could you make her forget me?”
“People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer”
Neil Gaiman highlights the importance of memory in several of his works. The above quote appears in The Graveyard Book, which is a book of ghosts, ghouls, and memories of the past. The above lines are spoken by Bod, who is upset at Silas for wiping Scarlett’s memory of him. Bod holds his own memories particularly close to his heart, so Silas’ decision haunts him for a long time. He thinks of it as a cruel act and one that was completely unwarranted.
Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good.
The above passage is taken from The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which is a book filled with memories. As the unnamed narrator goes back to his old town for a funeral, he comes across several childhood recollections, and he compares each of them to childhood toys. The toys have been long forgotten in an “adult” closet, which is just another way of saying memories always last. It is only a matter of digging them up once again.
Life and death
Call no man happy until he is dead.
These words are spoken by Shadow in American Gods right before he is about to be released from prison. Low Key asks Shadow whether he is happy about his release when Shadow replies that no man is going to be happy until he is dead. Not only does this line showcase Shadow’s pessimistic nature, but it is also a commentary on life itself. Shadow believes that happiness is an elusive concept for human beings. No matter what happens, there are always going to be trials and tribulations in someone’s life.
But there was a difference between the folk in the graveyard and this: a raw, flickering, startling shape the grey color of television static, all panic and naked emotion which flooded the Owenses as if it was their own.
This passage is taken from The Graveyard Book. Spoken from the point of view of Mrs. Owens, these lines reflect how the dead change too. Talking about Bod’s dead mother, Mrs. Owens comments on how she looks incredibly different from what she had always been used to about death. Mrs. Owens ultimately concludes that whatever happens in death is something that you need to accept, including the various stages that you undergo.
Reality and Illusions
Neil Gaiman likes to play around with the concept of reality in his works. Starting from his short story collection, Smoke and Mirrors (which is a dream narrative that dances around the edge of reality) to The Graveyard Book and Coraline, his works blur the lines between reality and illusion. The character Coraline perfectly captures this theme, especially with this particular quote from the novel Coraline:
There was nothing here that frightened her. These things – even the thing in the cellar – were illusions, things made by the other mother in a ghastly parody of the real people and real things on the other end of the corridor. She could not truly make anything, decided Coraline. She could only twist and copy and distort things that already existed.
Here, Gaiman projects the idea that illusions are merely distorted reflections of reality, which is exactly what the other world is all about.
Gaiman is wonderful at showcasing characters that are courageous in his stories. While courage as a theme is more prominent in his literature for children, it also makes an appearance in Stardust, when Tristan breaks apart a ferocious fight between a lion and a unicorn.
There were burrs and leaves in the lion’s mane. He held the heavy crown out toward the great beast. “You won. Let the unicorn go.” And he took a step closer. Then he reached out both trembling hands and placed the crown upon the lion’s head.
Here, Tristan bravely accomplishes the task, even though he is frightened out of his wits. The fact that bravery only occurs when someone is scared is a concept that is reflected in Coraline too.
Because,” she said, “when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.”
How old is Neil Gaiman?
Neil Gaiman is 60 years old, as of 2021. Born on 10 November 1960, Gaiman began his writing career as a journalist in the 1980s. He turned towards fiction and novel writing in the 1990s with his breakthrough work, The Sandman series which appeared in DC comics for several years.
Is Neil Gaiman married?
Yes, Neil Gaiman is married to Amanda Palmer, a singer-songwriter. The couple got married to each other in 2011 and have an open marriage. However, Gaiman and Palmer split up in 2020 and have been trying to make their marriage work for almost a year now.
How many books has Neil Gaiman written?
Neil Gaiman has written around 27 books. He still has an active writing career which means that he is probably going to continue adding to his impressive repertoire for several more years to come. Gaiman is currently working on a sequel to his novel, Neverwhere, titled The Seven Sisters.
How do you pronounce Neil Gaiman?
Neil Gaiman is pronounced as neel gay·muhn. Gaiman is a British author who has published several works of short fiction, novels, poetry, and nonfiction under his name. His most famous novels include the ever-popular American Gods, the mystic Stardust, and the dark and adventurous Coraline.