Friday, April 27, 2012

Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey

(February 22, 1925 – April 15, 2000)

 This goes out by special request to my friend Marc Ponomareff.

Pity the poor books editors in the 1950s when confronted with yet another manuscript by the persistent Edward Gorey. Back then no one knew quite what to call his small gems with their manic pen-and-ink illustrations of overstuffed drawing rooms, set somewhere between the Edwardian era and the 1920s, and with punch lines taken from the unspeakable horror of their well-dressed characters’ untimely demises. 

The rest of the article is here and well worth the time to read, as it contains several humorous anecdotes that depict the eccentric Gorey quite well.

 “The Curious Sofa,” which was published under the anagrammatic name “Ogdred Weary” and contains the immortal line: “Still later Gerald did a terrible thing to Elsie with a saucepan.”

“My mission in life is to make everybody as uneasy as possible. I think we should all be as uneasy as possible, because that's what the world is like.” 

An Alphabet Book

“All the things you can talk about in anyone's work are the things that are least important.... You can describe all the externals of a performance - everything, in fact, but what really constitutes its core. Explaining something makes it go away, so to speak; what's important is what's left over after you've explained everything else.” 

Nonsense really demands precision. Like in the Jumblies. Their heads are green and their hands are blue. And they went to sea in a sieve. Which is all quite concrete, goofy as it is.”

~Edward Gorey

Interviewer: What is your greatest regret? 

Gorey: That I don't have one” 

“What is, is, and what might have been could never have existed.” 

"Books. Cats. Life is good.” 

(Note to readers:  I've had a lot of problems with the template, which have resulted in changes to the look of the blog and with which I am not at all happy. Until I find something that works and that I can live with visually, this will have to do. If you have any suggestions or comments about what the new look, please let me know.)  

Web resources for all things Gorey

Review of Ascending Peculiarity, a compilation of interviews with Edward Gory.


  1. Oh Gina, what an absolutely wonderful collection of Goreybelia you've made. I've been a huge fan of his work for a very long time (as you know ♥) but some of these I've never seen. The beast on the couch is a marvel as is the displaced face at the bottom of the bathtub.

    It's a bit late for me now but I'll come back tomorrow to check through the links. Thank you so much for a delightful visit.

  2. It's no big secret that one of the reasons I'm such a fan of Susan's ink drawings is because they remind me of Gorey. With their own Susanisms, of course, to make them unique to her. Crow. The hints of smiles on the faces of the children she draws. The placement of hands....

    I second Susan - thank you for this delightful post.

  3. I've come back to say I can't remember when I first saw Edward Gorey's work in the little books he pretended were written for children but it was long ago. We even used to own a couple of the smaller editions that later became parts of Amphigorey I and II. His stuff was totally unique in a similar way to R. Crumb's. Although the two artists had/have different styles the common feature between them is their mutual discontent with modernist culture. There really is a lot to despise about it and I wish I had even a teeny part of the skill and humor. Thanks, Lisa! Your words are most kind but I'm well aware of my limits.

    Now I've had time to view all your links I thought you also might enjoy this article from a 2000 issue of Salon you may not have found in your research. The illustrations you've ingeniously chosen for this wonderful homage are a delight.

    Congrats, my friend and best wishes to Marc who inspired this post.

  4. Magnificent, magnificent. Your marvellous presentation of Gorey's work led me through his illustrations of Edward Lear and from there into that whole wonderful, magical world of Victorian nonsense poetry. And then to Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark. From there - ah, the wonderful freedom of imagination and memory! - to Mike Batt's musical of the same, which I hadn't thought of for years.

    Thanks for some lovely inspiration on a Sunday morning! :-)

  5. gina, this is all fabulous and i discover it with about 5min. left to my battery life. then i am out of here... i shall return unless i cannot because of internet issues....omg...your template looks good to me btw. miss you♥

  6. Susan - I thought of you, of course, when I composed the post and I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it so much!
    Yes, I read the Salon article, it is linked in the introduction, though perhaps you didn't see it because of how light the link color is. I'll have to fix that. It is an excellent piece on Gorey; among the best I came across and there was a lot!

    Lisa - I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

    Francis - I love it when people people dive right into the resources, clicking away, making new discoveries and in your case, remembering old ones, too. I'm so glad you enjoyed this!

    Linda - oh, please come back and share your impressions!

    I have to look harder for your blog now that you've moved out of the blogger neighborhood but I just left a comment on your turkey photo! xxoo

  7. Quite a discovery! Thank you for all the links. At first, Mr.Gorey made me very uneasy. Which (he said) was his mission. As mine (as a nurse) was always to make people as comfortable as possible, (and it made me happy to do it) I felt rather sorry for the poor guy. Then I saw the humour, and also his compassion for human nature. I'm enjoying more and more learning of him.

    May I add that (for me) Susan is a much better artist. Her drawings always revive my sense of the wonderful in life.

  8. I only came across Edward Gorey a few years back. What a treat!

  9. the dong with the luminous nose was a source of much amusement to us in school ( irish catholic all girls convent school) I did not know this artist until now , thanks for sharing this and bringing back nice school memories

  10. This is truly amazing & astounding, astonishing & fazing, a real labor of love! Some incredible finds amongst the images, several of which are completely new to me - wonderful quotes - and a fine array of links to encourage Further (and Further) Reading. You've outdone yourself, Gina -- yet again. What a bonanza of Goreyabilia!!

  11. Claude - I took to Gorey immediately and it's hard to explain why, when I love children so much, I find his work so very amusing! He was, from what I understand, a professed child hater.

    Jams - I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

    Jane - some of those old-school nuns were every bit as terrifying as some of what Gorey depicts in his drawings!

    Marc - I'm especially pleased you liked how the post turned out, as you the inspiration for it. Once I started working on your request, I couldn't stop. It is one of the more fun posts I've compiled in the four years I've been blogging. Thanks for the inspiration, my friend.

  12. what a walk through whimsy and irony and delight!

  13. what a walk through whimsy and irony and delight!

  14. Pretty fabulous stuff indeed. The world needs more of such things.

  15. Such surrealism. I have not encountered Gorey before, but his works are just delicious. Thank you so much for sharing, Gina.
    The sort of bird tortiose in the back of the car brought back our surreal experience with a goat on the back seat of the car, nonchalantly looking out, to the amazement of those in the car behind! Something about life mimicking art ... ot the other way around!!

  16. I tend to place irreverence on a pedestal.

    Thanks for this wonderful tour of Mr. G's work!


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