I don’t think I plan on reading “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman. I am sure it is perfectly good, but for lots of reasons, this book being one of them, I feel like I have a lot of and plenty of experience reading about the Norse people and their myths. For one, I recently replayed “Age of Mythology” and saw “Thor: Ragnarok” so I am good. Oh, and you should be clear that this book is not related.
This book is mostly the telling of Norse myths within a frame story. Unfortunately for this novel and for Norse myths, the frame story was much more interesting for me than the myths, and because the myths greatly took up more space in the text, so the over all experience was less than I wanted. The consequence of this is that I will read more from AS Byatt and less from Norse Myths. So it goes.
The frame is this…a young girl is sent away from the London Blitz to the north country for her own safety. Her father is a pilot, and she carries with her a book of Norse Mythology. As she reads the myths, she searches for meaning of her own world, and she doesn’t really find it. But what she does find is some understanding of humanity and the tragedies of existence captured within the stories. This is not an experience of revelation or transcendence, but one of quiet resignation and some comfort. It’s comforting to know that your problems are the same as every one else’s. It doesn’t eliminate yours, but makes you feel less targeted and put upon. It also takes the pressure off to have much in the way of answers. It’s cold comfort to be sure, but still a kind of comfort nonetheless.
(Photo by Jerry Bauer)