Edward Gorey

October 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Picture from the Edward Gorey House; some rights reserved by elh70 on Flickr.

Edward Gorey. Ever heard of him? He’s along the lines of Lewis Carroll when it comes to “literary nonsense”…think “Jabberwocky”, but the difference between these surrealists is that Edward Gorey is primarily an illustrator and he tends towards the absurd and mildly macabre. Or imagine Charles Addams, creator of the Addams Family.

Gorey (1925-2000) used a host of pseudonym under which other books were published, including the pseudonym Hyacinthe Phypps who wrote The Recently Deflowered Girl; the right thing to say on every dubious occasion. 

But the books I want to tell you about today, kiddies, are in his Amphigorey series: Amphigorey; Amphigorey Too; Amphigorey Also; Amphigorey Again. “Amphigory” is actually a word, look it up in the OED. Gorey makes a play on the word with his last name. It’s quite clever.

So, his nonsense books are filled with verse and short takes of the creep-tacular kind with tragic deaths and rotten luck–what other kind of luck lands you in a tragic death?–and yet with his lyrical style the sad and awful mishaps come off lighthearted. Visit Amazon.com and get previews of many of his books.

The Amphigorey series are books with several books within: books within a book. Many are short-story like but have been published as individual titles, if I’m not mistaken, but truly, to me, they read more like poems (not the dense kind, though Gorey does use some strange words I’ve had to look up) with their short lines, quick rhythm and (occasional) near-rhyme.

We have several of his books at the Library, just do an author search for his name (he’s also collaborated as illustrator on quite a few non-gruesome works). But for the Amphigoreys or is it Amphigories you’ll need to go through Interlibrary Loan.


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