The Believer: Peter Neumeyer, Edward Gorey in Floating Worlds

We are perhaps as well situated as we’ve ever been to solve the curiously tempting and elusive riddle of Edward Gorey. His illustrative style and design sensibility—a precious iteration of befuddlement and Gothicism—presage twenty-first-century trends in the comic arts, East and West. Of course, the very framing of such riddles—this artist over that artist, this presumed history over that untold history—is a suspect business, and Gorey disdained explanatory self-aggrandizements.

Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer is a trove of correspondence between Gorey and Neumeyer, a Harvard professor of children’s literature with whom Gorey collaborated on a few curio books that were brought out by a textbook publisher. In a gloriously realized edition, the correspondence—postcards, letters, even envelopes—is rich with insight into the aesthetic underpinnings of Gorey, an artist notoriously close-lipped as to his creative ideology. Indeed, the “aesthetic maunderings” of Floating Worlds not only render the most complete portrait of Gorey available but also give readers something very much like an algebraic formula of his sensibility. We are presented with a Gorey who is compelled to justify, however indirectly, his creative rationale. ...

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