'R is for Rhonda consumed by a fire'
November 1, 2012 3:02 AM   Subscribe

Edward Gorey's gothic tales from the vault: ' Edward Gorey's arch eccentrics are on display in two reissues and a never-before-published story.'
Three Gorey titles have just landed on bookstore shelves. From Pomegranate Press comes "Thoughtful Alphabets: The Just Dessert & the Deadly Blotter" (64 pp., $14.95), previously published only in obscure, limited editions, and "The Osbick Bird" (32 pp., $12.95), a Gorey classic unavailable for four decades, except in poor quality in "Gorey's Amphigorey Too" anthology, but now restored to a clarity so sharp-nibbed it almost hurts the eye.

Bloomsbury is also in on the act with "Saint Melissa the Mottled" (48 pp., $12), an unpublished story that Gorey never got around to illustrating, supplemented here with images from the Gorey archive, some never before published.
Columbia University put on a Gorey exhibit last summer, after a large donation by Andrew Alpern.

A Treasure Trove of Edward Gorey
Gorey’s work tends to combine whimsically grim storylines with dour yet dancerly protagonists. Whether they are Edwardian ladies, fur-coated gentlemen, ill-fated children, or unusual animals, his characters are almost always on some kind of journey. His stories often unfold in wallpapered rooms, on barren estates, or among statues, beast-shaped topiaries, and urns. “Few seem to return from the borders to which I’ve sent them,” he wrote to Peter Neumeyer, with whom he collaborated on three children’s books in the late 1960s. (Their correspondence has recently been collected in an absorbing, elegantly illustrated book, Floating Worlds.) Perhaps this is what gives Gorey’s work its talismanic power: his books and drawings, which are so often about imagined deaths and disasters, turn into lucky charms for his readers.
LARB, again: "Consider "The Osbick Bird": It's a sweetly melancholy surrealist fable about Edwardian eccentric Emblus Fingby's odd (but fond) friendship with the even odder bird of the title. Gorey, an only child and lifelong solitary, was famously an odd bird himself — tall, long-legged and gawky like the bird in the book, with the luxurious beard of a Victorian literatus and a sense of style that ran to fur coats and tennis shoes."

The Osbick Bird, in video (youtube)
The Deranged Cousins, video.
The Deadly Blotter, video.
Flickr album of some of Gorey's illustrations. He also illustrated the cover for Kafka's 'Amerika'.

Previously on Metafilter: What if Edward Gorey Illustrated ..., How To Dress Like Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: Letters Between Gorey and Neumeyer
posted by the man of twists and turns (14 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Also previously: Edward Gorey Meets Monty Python
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:08 AM on November 1, 2012

If you enjoy Gorey's work, it's worth reading about the man, too: "Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey." (NYT review.) Fascinating. Thanks, as ever, man of twists and turns.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:00 AM on November 1, 2012

This is nicely timed. The theater I work at just finished a run of "Gorey Stories". Thanks for putting this together.
posted by JARED!!! at 6:34 AM on November 1, 2012

Also, I thought R was for Rhoda...
posted by JARED!!! at 6:35 AM on November 1, 2012

The Osbick Bird is one of my favourites, and I'm glad it's getting a proper treatment.

As for finishing St. Melissa, I have an issue with 'completing' artists' unfinished works in general, so I'm a bit wary of it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:50 AM on November 1, 2012

Inevitably described as "flamboyant," he was often suspected of being a closeted gay, but when pointedly asked if he was, replied, "I'm neither one thing nor the other particularly."

I like that.
posted by JHarris at 6:51 AM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fun fact: Frank O'Hara was Gorey's roommate at Harvard.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:03 AM on November 1, 2012

Robert Wyatt's plaintive voice is appropriate: The Hapless Child, etc...
posted by ovvl at 7:56 AM on November 1, 2012

Among videos of Edward Gorey's work, the most conceptually challenging is this video of "The Inanimate Tragedy".
posted by kenko at 8:25 AM on November 1, 2012

I love The Inanimate Tragedy. Sometimes I like to imagine that Marble Madness is a loose video game adaptation of the book.
posted by oulipian at 8:52 AM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Neat! When I was in elementary school I obsessively read and reread Amphigorey and Amphigorey Too and have loved Gorey ever since. As an adult The Curious Sofa makes a lot more sense now than it did then though.
posted by Blue Meanie at 10:03 AM on November 1, 2012

Dances of Vice throws a Gorey-themed Halloween party every year.

The costumes are stunning.
posted by overhauser at 10:30 AM on November 1, 2012

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