December 2, 2014

Dec 2

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman


Bid Online Share: 

SOLD: $4,000

First edition, signed twice, first on the upper cover: “annotated by Neil Gaiman” and again on the title page: “Written & annotated by Neil Gaiman (me).” Gaiman dedicated this tale of a middle-aged man who returns to the scene of a childhood trauma, to his wife, Amanda Palmer “who wanted to know.” So ends the printed dedication. He now adds: “about my childhood, mostly.” The theme and mood of the novel is perfectly captured in the epigram of Maurice Sendak that he reproduces on the flyleaf: “I remember my own childhood vividly…I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew. It would scare them.” Gaiman tells us in the annotation that follows: ‘I love this quote. Fought copy editors to have the speech marks in it. The two-page Sendak-Spiegelman comic is wonderful thing. I never knew Sendak, but Art has been an acquaintance, then a friend, since 1987. N.” On the half-title he also tells us he originally wanted to title the work, “Lettie Hempstock’s Ocean.” Initially conceiving the work as a short story, he tells us on p.41, during the confrontation with Lettie and the “gray thing,” that “This was the moment I realized it wasn’t a simple short story, and stopped for a few months.” The extensive annotations alternate between biographical memories and charming, whimsical observations. Ursula Monckton’s entrance into the story prompts the memory of the little brown purse that was “given to my sister by a different housekeeper-nanny who seemed to hate us both.” Further on: “I loved climbing up and down drain pipes. It was a book thing.” This return to The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a pleasant visit for Gaiman, though the odd line elicits his censure: “Slightly heavy-handed with the Narcissus metaphor.”

GAIMAN, Neil (b. 1960). The Ocean at the End of the Lane. New York: William Morrow, 2013. 8°. Original cloth-backed; dust jacket (small tear along gutter of half-title).



© Kimberly Butler

Neil Gaiman is a New York Times best-selling author of books for adults and children. His works have been adapted for film, television, stage, and radio. The feature film adaptation of his book Coraline won a BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film and was nominated for an Oscar in the same category. His novel, The Graveyard Book, is the only book ever to win both the Newbery and Carnegie Medals, and his most recent novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, was named the 2013 National Book Award’s Book of the Year. Gaiman is a gifted visual artist in his own right, and his sketches have been included in his works and are highly prized as collectibles. He is a Professor in the Arts at Bard College.