Perhaps it is because we just studied Max Ernst, but I was expecting Edward Gorey’s work to be much darker than it was. Gorey is known for his gothic pen and ink drawings for works such as Dracula and The War of the Worlds. His own personal stories as shown in Amphigorey: Fifteen Books, however, were far from dark or gory. In fact, I would describe the genre of many of the stories within Amphigorey: Fifteen Books as borderline nonsensical and silly.
It is this contrast between the darker gothic illustrations and the original text of Gorey that make his stories unique. When he is drawing gothic pictures for works such as Dracula, his talent can not be fully appreciated and he is pigeon-holed into a certain genre. It is only when he is allowed to put his artwork in his own context that he can reach his full potential.
Not only can Gorey create for a variety of genres, his work can also be appreciated by a number of different audiences. The stories in Amphigorey: Fifteen Books can be witty for adults and whimsical for children. This book truly reveals Gorey’s ability to create multifaceted genres and cater to a wide range of audiences.
One Reply to “The Multifaceted Gorey”
I would argue that silly and gory are not mutually exclusive descriptors for a story. I think that Gorey’s works are so engaging because they do the unexpected by being both dark and absurd at the same time. While some of his stories, like The Bug Book, do appear to be more similar to the traditional children’s tale, others, such as The Hapless Child, are undeniably dark and somewhat depressing. However, most of his works seem to fall somewhere in the middle, for example The Fatal Lozenge, and are characterized by their dark humor. I think these stories make it clear that Gorey enjoys playing with the conventions of horror as well as with those of children’s literature. Therefore, I don’t think we can really say that his work on stories like Dracula confines him, as he seems to enjoy the genre of horror and finds ways to make it his own.