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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Neil Gaiman & the British Museum

The iconic atrium of the British Museum

On our first visit to England, my wife and I walked around London, stopping at all the places on that day's itinerary. In the afternoon, and after getting lost (and getting directions), we finally arrived at the British Museum. Then a strange thing happened. We realized we had other places we wanted to see more, and only so much more time remained to us that day. So we got no farther inside than the iconic atrium before we turned around and headed off.

Later, while reading the novel Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, I came to regret that decision. Although his fantasy takes place mostly within the London Underground, a few scenes featured his characters into the British Museum. That reminded me of our abortive attempt to see the museum. Thus, when we planned our next trip to England in 2013, we made sure we set out a day for the British Museum.

I can't say that subsequent visit brought the novel to life more vividly for me, or made the story more important to me. I cannot tell you why the novel made me feel like I needed to visit the British Museum in the first place. It's not as if I'm particularly a museum lover. I visit museums rarely, if ever, at home. All I can tell you is that, while a fantasy, Neil Gaiman's novel became real enough, and important enough, to make me want to see this particular museum. 

Most of us live where we want to live because we like where we live. We've chosen to be there. Yet sometimes, a particular story becomes so important to us that it pulls us to a place we would never otherwise visit. How does that happen? How does an author weave such magic? 

Where have your favorite stories taken you?

Dragon Dave

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