Book Report: Stardust by Neil Gaiman.
Neil Gaiman’s intention while writing Stardust was to present a Boundary-Defining Fairy Tale that was encompassed and defined by the social, the physical, and the metaphysical boundaries. He illustrates this by explaining that sometimes boundaries are narrow (as with the Wall-Faerie line); sometimes boundaries can be vast (as with the great distance between Tristran and his prize), while sometimes boundaries can be portrayed as both (as with Lilim’s mirror). Additionally, boundaries can be permanent and solid (as with the stone divide between the village and world beyond) and other times they were merely verges to be crossed.
He begins by introducing us to Wall’s simple physical boundary: a line of stone slabs running from the bushes into the woods and broken only once. The Wall of Walls marks the small world of the known from the vast world of the unknown, Faerie. Wall’s physical boundary also serves as a social limit. Strangers were not welcomed through the gap, and neither were insiders sent out. A clear demarcation not only between near and far but also between who belongs where. (“Dunstan knew that…as a Wall villager, he had every right to feel superior to all of the ‘furriners.'”) (Gaiman, p.11). When the Faerie Market arrives in the Wall every nine years, the author indicates that the villagers become visitors in the garden beside the town, and the physical and social boundaries are inverted. In the meadow, the grey zone between the worlds of Wall and Faerie occurs some of the most pivotal moments in the novel. Dunstan meets Lady Una there. The Witch-withered Queen’s bones confront Yvain. There, Tristran is conceived, glass flowers are given as gifts, identities are revealed, and destinies are discovered. And it is there that we see the beginning and end of Tristran Thorne’s adventure.
The author also shows how Tristran is caught at another social and physical boundary: childhood and adulthood. He is described as “halfway between a boy and a man, and… equally uncomfortable in either role.” (Gaiman, p. 40) Tristan finds himself in a social impasse due to that state: he is smitten with (the idea of) Victoria Forrester, whom he regards as his social