Christopher's Reviews > The World of Edward Gorey

The World of Edward Gorey by Clifford Ross
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Jul 20, 2007

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Read in April, 2006

THE WORLD OF EDWARD GOREY, by Clifford Ross and Karen Wilkin, is an overview of the great artist, writer, and droll humorist. While Gorey is one of my favourite literary figures, I found this book to be of limited appeal.

The first part of the book is Ross' interview with Gorey, a rather unimpressive piece that sheds little light on Gorey's development. Ross will bring up painters or authors of the past, and Gorey will either mildly approve, or speak badly of them. Gorey doesn't really seem up to the discussion, and all in all this is a disappointment. What follows, however, is fairly enlightening: Wilkin's essay "Mr. Earbrass Jots Down a Few Visual Notes" explores the various themes of Gorey's work (such as children meeting unfortunate ends), allusions to earlier artists (such as Klee) in his work, and the way he constructs plots. This is a more substantial piece than the interview, though really it will be of interest only to those who wish to deeply explore all facets of Gorey's creations.

The second half of the book are the plates, and this is what really might attract casual lovers of Gorey's work even if they already have the "Amphigorey" collections. Here we find examples not from just his well-known books, but also drawings from unpublished ones, simple sketches of what later became mature material, and many of the book covers and theatrical designs he did for other literary works. I was quite surprised to see Gorey's book covers, since to me his style doesn't fit Muriel Spark or Gogol at all, but apparently he was quite sought after back in the day.

If you are a really intense fan of Gorey and want to know more about his critical reception, THE WORLD OF EDWARD GOREY may be worth looking at. Those who just get an occasional chuckle from his idiosyncracy, however, should pass.
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