Chapter One Introduction
1.1 The Focus of the Study
Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman(born Neil Richard Gaiman,1960-)is an English author ofshort fiction,novels,comic books,graphic novels,audio theatre,and films.He is one of thebrightest stars to emerge from European and American literary circles in the last decade and isregarded as the representative of a new generation of fantasy literature.His notable works includethe comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust,American Gods,Coraline,and TheGraveyard Book.His works have not only sold well,but also won numerous awards,including theHugo,Nebula,and Bram Stoker awards,as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals.He is thefirst author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work,The GraveyardBook(2008).In 2013,The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the BritishNational Book Awards.
As a child and a teenager,Gaiman read the works of C.S.Lewis,J.R.R.Tolkien,Lewis Carroll,Mary Shelley,Rudyard Kipling,Edgar Allan Poe,Michael Moorcock,Alan Moore,Ursula K.LeGuin,Harlan Ellison,Lord Dunsany and G.K.Chesterton,which made him fall deeply into theworld of fantasy.At the beginning of Gaiman’s writing career,his manuscripts were returned overtimes,so he pursued publishing and journalism to learn about writing.In 1984,His firstprofessional short story publication Featherquest,a fantasy story,and his first book GhastlyBeyond Belief,a biography of the band Duran Duran,were the formal beginning of a writingcareer.After forming a friendship with comic-book writer Alan Moore,Gaiman started writingcomic-books,which The Sandman is one of his best known masterpieces.Gaiman’s first novel Good Omens was published in 1990.Since then,his every novel has been best-selling and wonnumerous awards.Some novels have been adapted for TV series that also get many goodcomments.Except novels,Neil Gaiman has also made his marks in other areas,such as radio,public performances,film and screenwriting.
1.2 Literature Review
American Gods is popular all over the world,but there are few and single academicresearches on it at home and abroad.The number of foreign research is relatively rich,butdomestic research is only a handful.These studies mainly focus on book reviews,its themes,writing features,mythological and religious perspectives and so on.Since the novel has beenadapted into a TV series,there are quite a few materials about the TV series to help us understandthe novel.Although this thesis focuses on interpreting the novel American Gods,related studies ofthe author and the TV series American Gods still need to be considered.
Domestic studies,whether on Neil Gaiman or on American Gods,have been sparse.The studyof Gaiman's work is dominated by American Gods,with a sprinkle of Stardust,Neverwhere andCoraline.The research genre involves anthologies,newspapers and dissertations,but thedissertations are all journal papers,and there are no core journal papers,nor master's or doctoraldissertations.
The View from the Cheap Seats:Selected Nonfiction(2020)is only one anthology about NeilGaiman in China.In this epic selection of more than 80 lectures and articles,prefaces and essays,Neil Gaiman sincerely discusses science fiction,music,comics,and film,and reveals hisunderstanding of fantasy writing.He invites readers to enter his real world,meanwhile he shareshis experiences and lessons,in the field of multiple creation of types of literature exploration,hisexchanges and friendships with Stephen King,Diana Wayne,Douglas Adams and other mastersand the stories behind creating bestsellers such as American gods,The Graveyard Book and TheSandman.This anthology is good for us to understand Gaiman and his thoughts about AmericanGods and is necessary to Gaiman’s research.
Chapter Two Images of America Constructed in American Gods
2.1 Contradiction and Pluralism:an image of“Integrated”America
Image,according to the Modern Chinese Dictionary(seventh edition),means a concreteshape or posture which is capable of arousing people's thoughts or activities,or life picturescreated in literary and artistic works can stimulate people's thoughts and feelings.
There are many ways to display the national image.The impression a local resident makes onan interlocutor outside the region plays a role in his or her perception of a country;Local residentshave a unique understanding of their environment based on their own practical experience.However,the national image studied in this paper refers to the image constructed and propagatedthrough various media and strategies,which is dominated by actors(countries)of the internationalcommunity in cross-cultural or domestic communication,and takes advantage of cultural,politicaland economic elements.The construction and publicity of such images have strong subjectiveinitiative and clear purposes,such as gaining recognition in the international community orgenerating recognition and unity within the actors.
As for the national image under such a certain position,the two interpretations of the word"image"in Chinese just point out its two basic characteristics.National image is different fromnational profile that the latter is a generalization of objective facts in geography,politics anddemography.However,national image is the product of subjective construction based on reality oreven divorced from reality in some cases.It mainly conveys certain concepts and landscapes tospecific audiences through various media and art forms in order to get recognition and consensus.
2.2 Misery and Enthusiasm:an image of“Progressive”America
America's national image is hard to encapsulate.It is,after all,a nation of immigrants.Overthe years,the United States has been shaped by people of different nationalities and countries.Although it is difficult to generalize,the Spirit of pioneering,not afraid of difficulties and activestruggle is still obvious in the American nation.In fact,the United States also propagandizes thespirit of patriotism,the most obvious manifestation of which is the"American Dream",but laterheroism,especially individual heroism,has become the most obvious manifestation of its presentspirit.
If Barker’s Candyman is,as Hoppenstand argues,‘a new god for a new urban age’(Hoppenstand 1994:138),then Gaiman’s novel provides intriguing context for the adaptation ofthis monstrous being to a regional space defined by a muddled sense of history.According toGaiman,the Midwest is the most inhospitable space for‘old gods’,who fear being forgotten–justas the Candyman does in both the short story and film adaptation.Similar to Barker’s Candymanframing Helen’s disbelief as the reason why he‘was obliged to come’and enact violence in orderto perpetuate the legends told about him(Barker 1986:118–19),Mr Wednesday justifies hisongoing exploitation of humans by stating,‘They made me.They forgot me.Now I take a littleback from them.Isn’t that fair?’(Gaiman2011:277,original emphasis).In Candyman,Purcell’s historical account of Candyman indicates that the supernatural incarnation was also‘made’by past racial violence that has been forgotten by portions of the American population.Assuch,Candyman represents components of American history that are actively disavowed.
Chapter Three Causes of the Construction of American Images in American Gods................................28
3.1 The Absence and Crisis of Belief in Modern America.............................28
3.2 The Importance of History and Immigrants in Modern America.....................34
Chapter Four Techniques of the Construction of American Images in American Gods.............................41
4.1 The Narrative Techniques in American Gods...........................41
4.2 The Figure Descriptions and Environment Descriptions in American Gods.....................44
Chapter Five Conclusion...................55
Chapter Four Techniques of the Construction of American Imagesin American Gods
4.1 The Narrative Techniques in American Gods
American Gods number one hero named"Shadow",he was abet by his wife Laura to rob abank,was arrested and sentenced to 6 years in prison,after serving 3 years,to meet him is hiswife's funeral,and learned that Laura is in an affair with his friend Robbie accident died,thismakes him despair.An old man named Wednesday comes to Shadow's door and offers him a jobas a driver and bodyguard.In fact,the man nicknamed Wednesday is Shadow's biological father,but Shadow doesn't know it.In the journey of work,the shadow makes friends with a variety ofwonderful characters,such as the mad Sweeney(Irish dwarf elf),Zenobberg(the god of darknessin ancient Slavic mythology),Easter(Easter goddess),Bee Gees(African fertility goddess),Ibis(Egyptian death Anubes)and so on.Wednesday seems to have been plotting a war,and Shadow isencouraged to join him in his secret mission to wage an existential battle between the old and newgods in American society.Wednesday,who had hoped to insinuate both sides,was murdered by agroup of new gods during negotiations.Shadow kept his promise to wake Wednesday,tying himto an ash tree in Virginia for three days and nights before dying.A time of crisis,quickened ester(Easter),while the shadow also realized that the war is actually"Wednesday"and the new godsLoki(the god of deception in Norse mythology)two people conspiracy of a hoax,they want tocause the unrest of the gods,by the slaughter to sacrifice to get blood from divine power.Thegood shadow realizes the truth and acts quickly,successfully stopping a bloody war.At the end ofthe novel,Shadow seems to have learned the truth of his life,and he is still doing his duty with integrity.He travels thousands of miles to Iceland to find"Wednesday",returns the glass false eyehe lost,and then leaves in silence.
Chapter Five Conclusion
National image is a special manifestation of national culture.On the one hand,it reflects thevalue choice of the country and is an important part of civic education.On the other hand,it alsoshows the comprehensive national strength of the country,which is the complex of hard powerand soft power of the country.Therefore,the national image of a country will also change with thechanges of The Times and the increase and decrease of the comprehensive national strength.Forthe United States,which is always involved in the study of international relations and the handlingof international affairs,its image varies in the eyes of people at different levels and in differentperiods,but there is no doubt that it has the common fault of European and American capitalistpowers—the supremacy of capital and interests,which is deeply rooted in the core of theAmerican spirit.Based on the theory of comparative literature Imagology,this thesis expounds thesocial image,national image and external image of the United States mainly displayed inAmerican Gods,and analyzes the methods of shaping these images.Finally,from the realisticsignificance,this thesis expounds the reasons for shaping these images and what kind of realisticperception these images can bring to us.
Neil Gaiman is an English writer living in the United States.Being an immigrant allowedhim to paint a multifaceted portrait of American society in the late 20th and early 21st centuriesfrom the perspective of an outsider.At the beginning of the 21st century,the United States wasunquestionably the world's leading power.The strong national strength makes the National prideof the United States rise,and the whole society presents a dynamic and positive atmosphere.However,behind the economic prosperity,the class and racial contradictions in the Americansociety become more and more intense.The fundamental cause of class contradictions lies in thedifference or opposition of economic interests,and is also manifested in politics and ideology.Asthe leader of capitalist countries,the United States has deeply implemented the concept of puttinginterests first:Politics is meritocratic,political parties are the agents of capital,not the interests ofordinary people,and even some policies are dictated by big capitalists on Wall Street;