Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ogdred Weary

Today is Edward Gorey's birthday! For anyone who doesn't know of this uniquely amazing man, he was a master illustrator, creative genius, and one of the rarest gems ever to exist on this rocky plain. Not only can we celebrate his macabre books, which there are over a hundred of, but his unusual way of looking at life. This man was the true definition of strange and brilliant. And I am grateful he existed, for the world would have been a far less interesting place without him. Before Tim Burton, there was Mr. Gorey and his ominous tales told through a tip of a pen.

Even though Gorey's literary catalogue is deep and plentiful many of his works are hard to find, all because of his love for word play, especially anagrams. A lot of his books were published under pseudonyms of his own name, most notably Ogdred Weary. Another name he used was Eduard Blutig which actually isn't an anagram, but still a word game. Blutig is German for bloody or Gory. A few of the other names he wrote under were Mrs. Regera Dowdy, Raddory Gewe, and E.G. Deadworry.

Here are some more ponderable facts about Edward Gorey:

  • His parents divorced when he was 11 and remarried when he was 27.
  • He attended Harvard and roomed with poet Frank O'Hara 
  • A lot of John Bellairs cover  art was illustrated by Gory.
  • A few of Gorey's works were in fact wordless and his illustrations always had a Victorian and Edwardian style to them, not to mention an air of ominousness. 
  • An unabashed 'pop culture junkie' Gorey loved television, movies, and soap operas. He stated in interviews his love for Batman and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. 
  • Gorey was never married and confessed to have little interest in romance. 
  • When asked about his sexual orientation, he said, "I've never said that I was gay and I've never said that I wasn't ... what I'm trying to say is that I am a person before I am anything else."
  • His home in Cape Cod is called Elephant House and is now the Edward Gorey House Museum.
  • This quirky gentleman left the bulk of his estate to a charitable trust for animals, dogs, cats and even bats and insects. 
A Gothic icon, Gorey stretched the bounds and falls into a very grey area. Though his artwork is often categorized for children, he did not write or draw for our youth, nor did he have much of a fondness for them. In truth, Gorey's works cannot be put into any one genre. Sure, you can find his books in the humour or cartoon section at your nearest bookstore, but he experimented all the time and often his artwork falls into a surrealist niche. Not to mentions his experiments - books that are wordless or ones the size of a matchbox, popup books or ones filled with inanimate objects - these only make it all that much harder to classify this man. 

Gorey himself described his work as literary nonsense. Which kind of only endears me to him more. Though he once said, "Ideally, if anything were any good, it would be indescribable." And that truly is what this man was. Good and indescribable.
Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey, you beautifully odd man. May your dark humour live on forever. 

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