From works clearly intended for children, such as The Wolves in the Walls or Coraline, to those clearly not intended for children, such as American Gods, Neil Gaiman's work utilizes mythic and fairytale tropes in ways that defy clear demarcations between the childish and the adult. This essay argues that by blending fantasy and horror elements with realism, Gaiman presents a text in The Ocean at the End of the Lane that is as hybrid as the creatures and characters within it, offering a posthumanist exploration. Specifically, it argues that Gaiman's novels are fundamentally posthumanist in their rejection of the humanist drive for control over the nonhuman, and their recognition that agency is an unpredictable, two-way street. Gaiman's imagination provides hybrid characters whose experiences both expose and call into question the fear of being ontologically unstable—a fear that seems particularly appropriate to childhood, but that in Gaiman is shown to be equally applicable to the adult. Using mythic and fairytale tropes, Gaiman destabilizes humanist notions of agency, subjectivity, and ontology from the child's perspective; in particular his use of magic realism and the tropes of memory and water blend fear and fantasy to address the trauma of being an unstable entity in a society that demands fixed identity.


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pp. 65-85
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