Gaiman's "Endless Nights"

Charles Butler hannibal at
Fri Nov 14 17:28:23 EST 2003

> I'd much rather have the story which remains unwritten, about the baby
> destined to remain unborn. Neil decided that it would end up being used
> by White Rose/SPUC types to persuade people to go through with pregnancies
> against their better instincts. I think this is a sad rationale, but the
> Gestation Story Which Doesn't Bear Literary Fruit is a nice conceit,

Ever read Charles Lamb's 'Dream Children'? One of the many pieces that made
me cry when I was a teenager. Elia sits there talking and reminiscing
happily with his son and daughter, when....

"I told how for seven long years, in hope sometimes, sometimes in despair,
yet persisting ever, I courted the fair Alice W---n; and, as much as
children could understand, I explained to them what coyness, and difficulty,
and denial meant in maidens -- when suddenly, turning to Alice, the soul of
the first Alice looked out at her eyes with such a reality of
re-presentment, that I became in doubt which of them stood there before me,
or whose that bright hair was; and while I stood gazing, both the children
gradually grew fainter to my view, receding, and still receding till nothing
at last but two mournful features were seen in the uttermost distance,
which, without speech, strangely impressed upon me the effects of speech;
"We are not of Alice, nor of thee, nor are we children at all. The children
of Alice called Bartrum father. We are nothing; less than nothing, and
dreams. We are only what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious
shores of Lethe millions of ages before we have existence, and a
name" ------ and immediately awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my
bachelor arm-chair, where I had fallen asleep, with the faithful Bridget
unchanged by my side -- but John L. (or James Elia) was gone for ever."

How outraged I was when I found in a book called 'Books We Could Do
Without', or something like that (I remember Brigid Brophy was one of the
three authors) this essay in particular singled out for its unutterable
mawkishness. Mawkish? No! And while I'm at it, neither is Coventry Patmore's
'The Toys'.


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