Neil Gaiman is one of the most widely known writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, having produced fiction and nonfiction, fantasy and horror, television, comics, and prose. He often attributes this eclecticism to his “compost heap” approach to writing, gathering inspiration from life, religion, literature, and mythology.
Readers love to sink into Gaiman’s medieval worlds—but what makes them “medieval”? Shiloh Carroll offers an introduction to the idea of medievalism, how the literature and culture of the Middle Ages have been reinterpreted and repurposed over the centuries, and how the layers of interpretation have impacted Gaiman’s own use of medieval material. She examines influences from Norse mythology and Beowulf to medieval romances and fairy tales in order to expand readers’ understanding and appreciation of Gaiman’s work, as well as the rest of the medievalist films, TV shows, and books that are so popular today.
“Illuminating and provocative by turns, this book is a fascinating deep dive into Neil Gaiman’s many medieval inspirations, ranging from Old Norse myth to morality play to folktale. Carroll’s work inventively rereads well-known medieval texts alongside Gaiman’s eclectic and creative reimagining of them in comic, novel, short story, and film.”—Carolyne Larrington, author, The Norse Myths that Shape the Way We Think
“With clarity and humor, Carroll puts Neil Gaiman’s works in conversation with chronicle histories, dream-vision poetry, saints’ lives, folktales, and other medieval (and medievalist) texts, drawing out chains of influence and reinterpretation.
Like Gaiman himself, this book is accessible to the medievalist, the speculative fiction fan, and everyone in between.”—Kavita Mudan Finn, author, The Last Plantagenet Consorts: Gender, Genre, and Historiography, 1440–1627
“An accessible survey of medieval influences across Gaiman’s work, imbued with Carroll’s humor and fresh voice. It provides historical and literary context for prominent themes and characters in Gaiman’s most famous stories, as well as analysis of lesser-studied works such as The Books of Magic and the 2007 film Beowulf.”—Tara Prescott-Johnson, author, Neil Gaiman in the 21st Century: Essays on the Novels, Children’s Stories, Online Writings, Comics and Other Works