The Rime of the Modern Mariner

Nick Hayes

First Sentence:   He swiftly signed the papers in the stuffy office air…It felt just like the wedding…(a perfunctory affair).

A first for Book Atlas this, as this is a graphic novel as opposed to a regular novel. I rarely (never) read graphic novels but this one is such an exquisite piece of beauty that I just couldn’t resist. Published by Jonathan Cape it is a magnificently bound hardback with illustrations throughout. (Though I suppose that’s quite normal for a graphic novel…) Here is just a sample of the wonderful  images on offer:

The story itself is an updated version of the Coleridge poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem I’m not overly familiar with, though I do remember reading it at some stage in college. This time the mariner is telling his story to a recent divorcee whereas in the original it was told to a wedding guest on his way to a wedding. The rhyming structure is similar throughout as this passage from the original shows:

Day after day, day after day/We stuck, nor breath nor motion/As idle as a painted ship/Upon a painted ocean.

This tale has a modern twist however, with the divorced office worker being told the tale by the mariner while sitting on a park bench playing with his Blackberry. The obvious concern of the author, and the main message of the book, is the danger of excessive waste and pollution. The mariner unwittingly shoots an albatross, just like the Coleridge poem, and ends up in a sea overflowing with rubbish

This book may not take long to read if you focus on the text alone but really, it’s the whole package that makes this book so stunning, and the whole package that you should be looking at when reading this. This is a book to be savoured, not one to just skim through. (Though overall, I still think I prefer regular novels to graphic novels.)

* * *

Last Sentence:  
In Gaia’s graceful harmonies it sang of Adam’s kin…Who rose from mud to touch he sky…And vanished…In the wind.

Last Sentence explained:   The book is full of apparitions and the divorcee is quite sceptical at first. By the end though, the mariner’s warning is successfully delivered and the divorcee goes on with his life. This books strength is mostly found in the artwork however, not the story. You could almost spend hours just staring at one page as it tends to makes dreamers of us all…



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