Originally published at Brain Pickings
J.R.R. Tolkien memorably asserted that there is no such thing as writing "for children" and Maurice Sendak similarly scoffed that we shouldn't shield young minds from the dark. It's a sentiment that Neil Gaiman – one of the most enchanting and prolific writers of our time, achampion of the creative life, underappreciated artist, disciplined writer, and sage of literature – not only shares, in contemplating but also enacts beautifully in his work. More than a decade after his bewitching and widely beloved Coraline, Gaiman returns with another terrific embodiment of this ethos – his adaptation of the Brothers Grimm classic Hansel & Gretel (public library), illustrated by Italian graphic artist Lorenzo Mattotti, the talent behind Lou Reed's adaptation of The Raven.
The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm have attracted a wealth of reimaginingsover their long history, including interpretations as wide-ranging as those byDavid Hockney in 1970, Edward Gorey in 1973, and Philip Pullman in 2012. But Gaiman's is decidedly singular – a mesmerizing rolling cadence of language propelling a story that speaks to the part of the soul that revels in darkness but is immutably drawn to the light, that listens for the peculiar crescendo where the song of the dream becomes indistinguishable from the scream of the nightmare.