Graveyards In Art and Storytelling

Graveyards In Art and Storytelling

Graveyards are a necessary element of a Gothic setting. The graveyard is a liminal space, connecting the living to the dead.

The Cemetery (c. 1825) by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
The Cemetery (c. 1825) by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
Anton Pieck (Dutch 1895-1987) Illustration of three men playing cards by a graveyard. (Which one is next?)
Newell Convers Wyeth (October 22, 1882 – October 19, 1945), known as N. C. Wyeth, was an American artist and illustrator. He was the pupil of artist Howard Pyle. He was killed with his grandchild while crossing a train track.
Bernie Wrightson 1983
Illustrations by Léon Carré for the book of Thousand and One Nights. Mohamed Racim decoration and ornaments. The H. Piazza Art Edition, Paris, 1932
Edmund Lewandowski (American, 1914-1998) Cemetery, 1946
Cowgirl Romances #1 1950

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is … a gothic fantasy chronicling the childhood of Nobody Owens (or “Bod”), a boy raised by ghosts following the murder of his family. This novel fits the fantasy category somewhat more appropriately – internal logic and laws, magic, ghosts and demons all play large roles in the book, as well as an age-old conflict between two powerful forces.

Yet Gaiman chooses to set the story – for the most part – firmly within our world. This is an intriguing decision that arguably pushes the work again into the realm of magical realism, or at least something resembling it. When reading the novel, the benefits of this choice are almost immediately apparent. The opening chapter introduces us to the villainous Jack, searching for the young Bod whilst clutching a knife. Gaiman’s elegant prose serves only to add to the unease, his allusions to Jack’s acts of murder sinister and gripping in equal measure. Once again, realism is used as a tool to increase horror as Gaiman describes the interior of the familiar, modern house where this has taken place – close to home in the frightening, disturbing sense.

The Artifice

67,380 words

The Doubt: ‘Can these Dry Bones Live?’ exhibited 1855 Henry Alexander Bowler 1824-1903
Thomas Brooks - The Sister’s Grave 1857
Thomas Brooks – The Sister’s Grave 1857
Quartet by George R.R. Martin-grave yard
Quartet by George R.R. Martin
AU FIL DES JOURS S'EN VONT LES JOURS (1973) Danièle Bour graveyard
AU FIL DES JOURS S’EN VONT LES JOURS (1973) Danièle Bour graveyard
The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot
Halloween A Holiday Book by Lillie Patterson, illustrated by Gil Miret (1963)
Barringer House by Barbara Riefe
Barringer House by Barbara Riefe
By The Pricking Of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie illustration by Tom Adams
Crow Hollow
The Yesteryear Phantom graveyard
The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr
The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr
Helen Stratton for Andersen's Fairy Tales 1935 Blackie and Son, graveyard
Helen Stratton for Andersen’s Fairy Tales 1935 Blackie and Son, graveyard
Nasturtium by J.J. Grandville (J.J. Grandville (1803-1847) flower
Nasturtium by J.J. Grandville (J.J. Grandville (1803-1847) flower
BLOOD AND LAUGHTER, Caricatures From The 1905 Revolution David King & Cathy Porter (Published by Jonathan Cape Ltd, London 1983 graveyard

Beware of Helen…

Heather is such a whiny little brat. Always getting Michael and me into trouble. But since our mother married her father, we’re stuck with her…our “poor stepsister” who lost her real mother in a mysterious fire.

But now something terrible has happened. Heather has found a new friend, out in the graveyard behind our home — a girl named Helen who died with her family in a mysterious fire over a hundred years ago. Now her ghost returns to lure children into the pond…to drown! I don’t want to believe in ghosts, but I’ve followed Heather into the graveyard and watch her talk to Helen. And I’m terrified. Not for myself, but for Heather…

The Ghost of Yotsuya 1959 dir. Nobuo Nakagawa, Tokaidoo Yotsuyakaidan
Into The Spiderverse graveyard

Those who tell the stories rule the world.

Native American Proverb