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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey - Karen Wilkin

I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I requested it based on my familiarity with some of Gorey’s work that has shown up on various greeting cards I’ve received, as well as his delightfully macabre alphabets. The book is a companion to a current exhibit of the artist’s work at the Brandywine River Museum, and features a variety of plates of Gorey’s drawings.

I learned a number of things from this book, first of which is that Gorey is actually a contemporary artist (he only passed away in 2000, and was younger than my grandparents). Given his typically Victorian style, I’d always assumed he was an early 20th century artist.

Another surprise was that he did set design. A number of sketches for his designs for The Mikado are included. His design combines Victorian England and high Japanese fashion, and it actually works.

This is definitely an interesting book, with a wide survey of his work, even including some illustrated envelopes from the letters he sent to his mother when he was in college. I’d highly recommend this to anyone like me that’s only familiar with the public face of Gorey, and would like to learn more.


Nymeth said...

Oh wow, I had no idea he passed away in 2000. I'd assumed it had been long gone too! I love the sound of this book.

Carl V. said...

I'm going to have to pick this up. I have been a fan of Edward Gorey's work since I was a child. His illustrations were some I remember fondly from books checked out from the local library when I was in elementary school. I remember being really sad when he passed away, knowing that there would be no new creations from his fascinating mind. I'll have to add this book to my wishlist. I have a couple of other books by him. I highly recommend Elephant House. It is a book of photographs taken of the inside of his house. Brilliant photos with some biographical information as well.

Megan said...

Thanks for the req. I've added it to my wish list.

M.M.E. said...

You should find the two books of his interviews! He's such a sly, sarcastic guy that he slams the interviewer without their even knowing. Gorey is one of my favorite artists. Did you know that you can buy a mini pop-up/toy set for his Dracula theatre design? It even has cut-outs of the characters. Super cool. It's on my wish list on Amazon.