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Semi-OT: New biography of Edward Gorey
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l***@yahoo.com
2018-11-30 15:34:36 UTC
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"A New Biography Takes on Edward Gorey, a Stubborn Enigma and Master of the Comic Macabre"

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/books/review-born-to-be-posthumous-edward-gorey-biography-mark-dery.html

First paragraphs:

By Jennifer Szalai Nov. 28, 2018

Writers are supposed to have a hard time killing their darlings, but there are a few who apparently thrill to the task. In “Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey,” the cultural critic Mark Dery explains how Gorey was always looking to pare things down. Right up until his death from a heart attack in 2000, at 75, he was relentlessly productive — staging plays, producing puppet shows, illustrating books and publishing a hundred or so little volumes of drawings paired with arch, taciturn texts — while taking care to keep it all “very brief,” as Gorey put it, in pursuit of what Dery calls “an almost haiku-like narrative compression.”

But it was by murdering other kinds of darlings on the page that Gorey earned his reputation for the comic macabre. Poisoned husbands, heartbroken suicides, gaunt innocents so consumed by illness that they wander into the street and get run over by a car: Gorey depicted their grisly deaths, and often their hollow-eyed ghosts, in meticulously crosshatched tableaux that resembled Victorian engravings. He even created an alphabet book, “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” that dispatched 26 wee ones with matter-of-fact equanimity. (“I is for Ida who drowned in a lake / J is for James who took lye by mistake.”) Dead children became such a Gorey signature that The New Yorker asked him why so many of his victims were young, to which Gorey replied: “It’s just so obvious. They’re the easiest targets.”

Gorey, however, isn’t the easiest target for a biographer, as Dery himself admits. Part of this has to do with what seems to be the enormous gap — or the yawning crevasse, to put it in high-flown Goreyland terms — between art and artist. Even some of Gorey’s most ardent fans assumed he had to be British and long deceased. Such intricate, gothic scenes were supposed to unfurl from the pen of a wan, wraithlike neurasthenic holed up in a garret — not some towering Midwesterner partial to floor-length fur coats and busy days attending the New York City Ballet. There’s only so much biographical material Dery can wrest from the work...

(snip)

Also see:

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/14/667432542/born-to-be-posthumous-brings-edward-goreys-name-to-his-work

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20181121-a-new-biography-looks-at-the-appeal-of-edward-gorey

(this has a photo from his high school days! Plus an earlier photo - from 1932.)

Excerpt:

"A precociously gifted child, he grew up in depression-era Chicago, learning to draw at the age of one-and-a-half and teaching himself to read at three. He had devoured Dracula by the age of five and the complete works of Victor Hugo before he was eight, absorbing a gothic sensibility which would later imprint itself on his work."


Gorey was drafted during WWII, graduated from Harvard in 1950 (he majored in French), and his roommate there was the poet Frank O'Hara.

Aside from the usual favorites like "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" and "The Wuggly Ump," two stories of his I like are "The Sinking Spell" (for its unusual gentleness) and "The Tuning Fork" (for its semi-friendly monster).


Lenona.
p***@hotmail.com
2018-12-01 03:30:56 UTC
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On Friday, November 30, 2018 at 9:34:39 AM UTC-6, ***@yahoo.com wrote in
reference to the recent book _Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and
Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey_, by Mark Dery, Little, Brown, 2018
(ISBN 978-0-316-18854-8).
Post by l***@yahoo.com
"A precociously gifted child, he grew up in depression-era Chicago,
learning to draw at the age of one-and-a-half and teaching himself to
read at three. He had devoured Dracula by the age of five and the
complete works of Victor Hugo before he was eight, absorbing a
gothic sensibility which would later imprint itself on his work."

I would normally take this last sentence to mean that by the age of
five the person being discussed had avidly read Bram Stoker's
novel _Dracula_, but with Mr. Gorey I don't know if this is
a safe assumption.

Peter Wezeman
anti-social Darwinist
J. Clarke
2018-12-01 13:13:31 UTC
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Post by p***@hotmail.com
reference to the recent book _Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and
Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey_, by Mark Dery, Little, Brown, 2018
(ISBN 978-0-316-18854-8).
Post by l***@yahoo.com
"A precociously gifted child, he grew up in depression-era Chicago,
learning to draw at the age of one-and-a-half and teaching himself to
read at three. He had devoured Dracula by the age of five and the
complete works of Victor Hugo before he was eight, absorbing a
gothic sensibility which would later imprint itself on his work."
I would normally take this last sentence to mean that by the age of
five the person being discussed had avidly read Bram Stoker's
novel _Dracula_, but with Mr. Gorey I don't know if this is
a safe assumption.
I believe Hugo would suffice. Think "Hunchback of Notre Dame", not
"Les Miserables".
Post by p***@hotmail.com
Peter Wezeman
anti-social Darwinist
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