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Gorey illustrator.

Eve Bowen's article "A Treasure Trove of Edward Gorey"--written to highlight "Gorey Preserved," a 2012 exhibit of his work at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library--for a New York Review blog (2 August 2012) begins,
     While working in the Anchor/Doubleday art department in the 1950s
   the illustrator and writer Edward Gorey discovered a long-forgotten
   cache of material by an earlier artist, the Krazy Kat creator
   George Herriman. [For more on Krazy Kat and Wolfe, see Wayne
   Caldwell's essay in the 2008 TWR (125-27).] ... In a 1999
   interview with Steven Heller, Gorey recalled:

   I could scream now, because nobody knew they were there, and I
   anguished but finally took three of them.... You can't believe
   how much stuff there was ... you know, old bookjackets from the
   '20s, the 'teens. Nobody paid any attention to it.

     As Herriman's drawings aroused Gorey's impulse to preserve them, so
   the work of Gorey--who illustrated fifty-odd covers for the Anchor
   paperback series and would go on to create more than a hundred
   witty and macabre books of his own--arouses ours today.

No kidding! There is a lingering sense of mystery about Gorey's putative cover designs for editions of the first two posthumous Wolfe novels linked with a desire to locate the original art.

Bowen reports that Gorey first met Barbara Epstein and her future husband, Jason Epstein, co-founders of the New York Review of Books (which celebrated its fiftieth year this year) when Jason, who also worked at Doubleday, "was then launching the Anchor paperback series, [and] invited Gorey to work in the art department." In a 1992 New Yorker profile, Barbara Epstein recalled Gorey's Anchor cover illustrations: "They were beautiful, ravishing. He worked very slowly, with a tremendous perfectionism, and he would never let a drawing out of his hands if it was less than perfect."

A 2013 blog entry by Nicholas Graham ("Edward Gorey and Thomas Wolfe") for North Carolina Miscellany celebrates Gorey on his birthday (22 February) and explains that fans of Gorey will recognize his work on the covers of Anchor editions of The Web and the Rock (1953) and You Can't Go Home Again (1957) and features the two covers. The cover for Web, with its whimsical sense of gothic macabre right down to the woman's hand, which almost looks like a paw, is immediately recognizable as a Gorey work. But the You Can't cover doesn't present the same Goreyesque provenance and has been in question. Indeed a conversation with Andreas Brown, the last proprietor of the Gotham Book Mart and Gorey's literary executor, disclosed that he didn't know where the original cover art might be, and he couldn't confirm that the latter cover was by Gorey.

For more information on Gorey and his covers, check out the Web postings "Those Gorey Covers!" on the Goreyography site and "Edward Gorey's Vintage Book Covers for Literary Classics" by Maria Popova on the Brain Pickings site. The latter contains many of Gorey's covers, including the one for The Web and the Rock. A comparison of some of those covers with the one for You Can't Go Home Again suggests Gorey even if they veer away from his most familiar style.

A copy of the Grosset and Dunlap 1957 edition of You Can't Go Home Again in its Universal Library Series (UL-16) is catalogued in the Toronto Public Library with a "General Note" that the cover design is by Edward Gorey, citing Henry Toledano's Goreography (126). So while this is enough evidence to convince us that Gorey did design the second cover, another mystery crops up: The bibliographical information and indeed the book covers themselves show the titles from Grosset's Universal Library. Yet Gorey was designing covers for Doubleday Anchor. We haven't pierced the corporate veil of incestuous publishers and can't explain the distinctions. But for a fascinating article on the history of paperbacks, see "How Paperbacks Transformed the Way Americans Read" on the mental_floss website, and at the end you can even order a free issue of Mental Floss magazine, offered to tease you into subscribing.
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Title Annotation:Notes; Edward Gorey
Publication:Thomas Wolfe Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Previous Article:From gossip to gospel.
Next Article:The Wolfes?

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