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All is Discovered! Amphigorey Again Reviewed
on October 29, 2006
Amphigorey Again is the fourth, and possibly last, anthology of works by American author and artist Edward St. John Gorey (1925-2000). Picking up where the previous anthology Amphigorey Also (1983) left off, Amphigorey Again reaches as far back as 1968 with the inclusion of The Other Statue and Categor y in 1974, at the same time encompassing the last of Gorey's work with The Headless Bust (1999).
What lies within?
The Galoshes of Remorse, a periodical illustration
Signs of Spring, a newspaper feature
Seasonal Confusion, a newspaper feature
Random Walk, a newspaper feature
Categor y, trade publication
Bibliophile (unlisted pen and ink and watercolor illustration)
The Other Statue, trade publication
10 Impossible Objects (abridged), pen and ink illustrations
The Universal Solvent (abridged), privately published
Scènes de Ballet, privately published postcards
Verse Advice, a newspaper feature
The Deadly Blotter: Thoughtful Alphabet XVII, privately published
Creativity, a periodical pen and ink illustration
The Retrieved Locket, privately published
The Water Flowers, trade publication
The Haunted Tea-Cozy, trade publication
Christmas Wrap-Up, a pen and ink and watercolor illustration
The Headless Bust, trade publication
The Just Dessert: Thoughtful Alphabet XI, privately published
The Admonitory Hippopotamus, a previously unpublished work
Neglected Murderesses, privately published postcards
Tragédies Topiaries, privately published postcards
The Raging Tide, trade publication
The Unknown Vegetable, privately published
Random Walk, a newspaper feature
Serious Life: A Cruise, a newspaper feature
Figbash Acrobate, privately published
La Malle Saignante, a previously unpublished work
The Izzard Book, by Mrs. Regera Dowdy, a previously unpublished work
Two previously unpublished works, The Admonitory Hippopotamus and The Izzard Book, are supposedly unfinished. The other unpublished work, La Malle Saignante is wonderfully conceived and realized; I wonder why it never made it to the bookshelves. But it is The Admonitory Hippopotamus I am especially fond. A compact epic, a touching and vivid portrayal, it is all text. Originally announced in the first Amphigorey back in 1972, I always kept a third eye out for its debut. Though it lacks illustrations, I easily let my mind cast the parts of Angelica and Sneezby with Gorey demoiselles and hippo in the manner of The Nursery Frieze (1964) - and am pleased as punch it's included.
The newspaper and periodical features are satisfying treasures. Unless one was diligently clipping NY Times Magazine and NY Times Book Review and the like, one would've missed most of these. These seasonal limericks and short stories remind me how versatile Gorey was with the English, and occasionally French, languages. His Dogear Wryde postcard series, like Tragédies Topiaries, are strong examples of Gorey's ability to tell stories in a similarly abbreviated medium, nearly all resemble well-articulated storyboards.
Amphigorey Again can also be called The Colorful Compendium - it has twelve works in full spectrum Gorey palette. Works in color previously appeared only once in the first anthology, twice in the third. The twelve works in this volume vary wildly in range and palette, but I find Gorey's subdued tints very nicely done, especially in Galoshes and Random Walk.
But what I really like are the acres of black & white, pen & ink hatching & cross-hatching - and Gorey went to town in La Malle Saignante. Its story could have fallen from a Louis Feuillade notebook, but the artwork is thick with Gorey's graphic motifs used in earlier works like The West Wing (1963) and The Gilded Bat (1966). The density of hatch & x-hatch, if measured in strokes-per-inch, seems as painful as it is beautiful to regard. One can only hope Gorey enjoyed creating these as much as we enjoy soaking them in. Like so many other Edward Gorey classics, the closer one looks, the more one is drawn in.
" The hippopotamus peered out at her from
behind the altar. `Fly at once!' he said. `All is discovered.' "
-- from The Admonitory Hippopotamus: or, Angelica and Sneezby