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Edward Gorey's Books of Eerie GloryA new biography looks at the appeal of Edward Gorey. Why have so many directors and writers been drawn to his peculiar vision, asks Cath Pound. Drawing on sources as varied as the novels of Agatha Christie and French silent film, he created a uniquely macabre vision of the world filled with crumbling English mansions, jittery dark-eyed flappers and stony faced Edwardian gents where nothing is quite as it seems. His virtuosic illustrations and poetic texts have drawn comparisons to Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and Samuel Beckett, winning him critical acclaim and a devoted cult following in his native US. That he is not better known elsewhere is perhaps due to the unclassifiable nature of his work — yet his influence can be seen everywhere, from the films of Tim Burton to the novels of Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket.
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Edward Gorey's Books of Eerie Glory
IN his prime, Edward Gorey had made himself a perfect fusion of art and life. The artist and author of more than meticulously hand-lettered, intricately rendered little books had to all intents and purposes become one of his own drawings. He was hard to miss: tall, slender, long of beard, frequently clad in a full-length fur coat and sneakers. He wore a tasteful gold stud in each ear, and what seemed to be dozens of rings on his long, thin hands. His usually bemused expression might have been the result of the partial deafness that left him oblivious of the little squeals of his surrounding admirers. How Gorey became Gorey is the heart of the 21 interviews with assorted writers and critics, dated from to , the year before his death, collected in ''Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey,'' edited by Karen Wilkin, an art critic who also contributes a useful introduction.
Edward Gorey was an American illustrator and writer, chiefly remembered for his illustrated books. Once you've seen a bit of Gorey's work, it becomes instantly recognizable. His books are full of rich, strange characters.
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Edward Gorey, continued
Reading Edward Gorey's 'Haunted Tea-Cosy'
By Joan Acocella. I always pick up Henry James and I think, Oooh! This is won derful! And then I will hear a little sound. And the whole thing is going down the drain like the bathwater. Many Gorey books are little more than thirty pages long: a series of illustrations, one per page, accompanied, at the lower margin or on the facing page, by maybe two or three lines of text, sometimes verse, sometimes prose. In the white space that remained, Gorey felt, wit had room to flower.
My childhood discovery of Edward Gorey proved revelatory. I recognized my own bewilderment in the blank expressions of his obsessively-rendered Edwardian children. His characters, imprisoned in starched collars and stays, stared at the world through hollow eyes, struck dumb by alternating currents of absurdity and horror. He gave his readers permission to be odd and haunted, and to laugh about it, but he never seemed to have needed such permission himself. But the man himself remained shrouded, and that was just as well. Learning more about him as an adult, I have been struck by just how closely he resembles some of his characters, or rather, by how much he was, in work and life, entirely himself. He rarely missed a performance over the course of three decades, then moved to his famed Cape Cod house when Balanchine died in the mids.