Griffin and Sabine
Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence is an epistolary novel by Nick Bantock, published in 1991 by Chronicle Books in the United States and Raincoast Books in Canada. It is the first novel in The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy and was a bestseller in 1991. The story is told through a series of removable letters and postcards between the two main characters and is intended for an adult audience, as some sources describe the artwork as disturbing.
Griffin Moss is an artist living in London who makes postcards for a living. He is unhappy and lonely, though he is unaware of these feelings. His life is changed forever when he receives a cryptic postcard from Sabine Strohem, a woman he has never met. Like Griffin, she is an artist (she illustrates postage stamps) and comes from a fictional group of small islands in the South Pacific known as the Sicmon Islands (Arbah, Katie, Katin, Ta Fin, Quepol and Typ). The two begin to correspond regularly.
Griffin comes to realize that he is in love with Sabine, who reciprocates his feelings, and that they are soulmates. However, his growing uncertainty as to Sabine's true nature and the changes her presence has caused in his life develop into fear and he ends up rejecting her offer for him to come see her in person. He comes to the conclusion that Sabine is a figment of his imagination, created from his own loneliness. It appears to be true until another postcard arrives from Sabine with an ominous promise that if he will not come to her, she will go to him:
- Griffin — Foolish man. You cannot turn me into a phantom because you are frightened. You do not dismiss a muse at a whim. If you will not join me, then I will come to you. -- Sabine
In the second volume Sabine moves to Griffin's house in London while he wanders through Europe, North Africa, and Asia, backwards through layers of ancient civilizations — and of himself.
In the final volume, the mystery of the two artists deepens and their questions grow more urgent. New obstacles (including a sinister intruder) test the tenacity of their passion, and in each letter or postcard, painting and prose are even more richly intertwined.
Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence contains elements of romance, mythology, modern philosophy, and Jungian psychology. The author says the poem "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats influenced the book.
The correspondence of Griffin and Sabine continues in Sabine's Notebook and The Golden Mean. Their story is further expanded in a second trilogy, known as the Morning Star Trilogy.
Griffin and Sabine inspired the 1994 parody Sheldon and Mrs. Levine, An Excruciating Correspondence by Sam Bobrick and Julie Stein, with illustrations by Price Stern Sloan. It is composed of letters exchanged between a man and his domineering stereotypical Jewish mother (ISBN 0843136685).
- Sabine's Notebook: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Continues $17.95 : Chronicle Books
- Interview | Nick Bantock
- Powell's Books - Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock
- Bantock, Nick (1991). Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
- CNN.com - Nick Bantock's illuminations of love - February 14, 2002