Monday, October 8, 2012

Coraline (10th Anniversary Edition)

10th Anniversary Edition
Illustrated by Dave McKean
Published 04/24/2012

Coraline discovers an alternate reality though a small door that at first, seems to open onto a bricked  up wall in the new house that her family has moved into; but in fact leads her to her Other Mother and Other Father. Coraline's Other Parents extend a tempting invitation to remain in this Other place which is very much like the one she has left; but much better in terms of the food, care and, attention from parents that Coraline craves.

There is a temptation to view Coraline as something of a dark and distorted version of Alice in Wonderland: there is the young female protagonist, a looking glass, an enigmatic cat, a prandial setting in which the absurd reigns... and yet, to insist on this analogy would diminish Gaiman's work as merely derivative ---- which it certainly is not, at least not in the pejorative sense. There are certainly multiple influences, literary in form and style that have come to bear in this young adult tale; but it would be more apropos to consider Coraline as the extension of literary tradition. e.g. that of the Knight's Tale or even of the troubadour tradition.

The tenth anniversary edition of Coraline also includes interviews with Neil Gaiman at the end of the book: the first set of questions & answers are from when the book was first published and the second set of questions & answers are on the occasion of the book's tenth anniversary. Gaiman mentions that Coraline is a book about bravery and it is; but more than that, though Gaiman himself does not draw the correlation, Coraline speaks to the classic tales of heroism and quest that are usually reserved for boys. Coraline is a Knight's Tale for girls: Coraline is an Everygirl who wants for nothing extraordinary, but is cast upon a mission or quest for three things - three things that will engender True Love from a Mother figure and, who ultimately must confront a dragon. The leitmotif of the dragon is introduced in the epigraph by G.K. Chesterton and reinforced with descriptive phases in regard to the antagonist and again underscored in the interviews.
Fairy tales are more than true; not because
they tell us that dragons exist, but because
they tell us that dragons can be beaten. 
                            --- G.K. Chesterton 
Coraline is a fairy tale, a Knight's Tale, a very dark tale that draws on some fine literary traditions; but presents the reader with novel and creative images that make it uniquely the work of Gaiman.

For parents: The imagery in Coraline is very dark and may not be appropriate for children who are prone to fearfulness or nightmares, especially of rats, actors and/or the door in your house that leads to the crawl space. Parents may also have to answer questions about parental love, neglect and abuse, smother love, abstract concepts of creativity and parallel universes.

See Also:
Mr. Bobo's Remarkable Mouse Circus

Other Stuff:
I purchased Coraline, 10th Anniversary Edition (by Neil Gaiman; with illustrations by David McKean) from the Barnes & Noble in Medford, Oregon. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing this product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

This post is part of the Murder, Monsters, Mayhem feature being hosted by Jennifer L. at her blog,

1 comment:

  1. I will have to read this one. I like Neil Gaiman. I've read Star Dust. Thanks for the reminder.