Gaiman vs Ahistorical Views
Salon features a nice double interview with Neil Gaiman (“Sandman”, “American Gods”, “Good Omens”) and Susanna Clarke (“Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell”). In the interview Gaiman takes umbrage at the “ancient” legends of Stonehenge.
“They don’t turn into stories. They’re lovely fragments. It’s almost like England has to cope with something big that’s been lost. Take Stonehenge: I get irritated when neopagans start talking about the ancient legends of Stonehenge and how far back they go. When I tell them that those legends mostly come from the 1850s, they get really upset. In “Remains of Gentilism and Judaism,” which is John Aubrey’s book, he went out and found every single thing he could and wrote it down — everything that was commonly believed about Stonehenge, which was if you chip a rock off Stonehenge and put it in your well, it will keep toads away. That’s it. That’s everything John Aubrey was able to find in the 1640s.”
Despite his irritation at Pagans with a shoddy background in folklore, I can tell you he was very friendly to this Pagan when I took pictures of him at a bookstore signing some years back. Can’t wait to read Anansi Boys.