Original artwork for Edward Gorey's All Strange Away.
(N.p. c. 1976). Sixteen engraved illustrations altered by hand in pen-and-ink on paper, designed by Gorey for his collaborative publication with Samuel Beckett of the latter's All Strange Away. The images each deliver on Gorey's signature penchant for the uneasy and uninterpretable. They bear shapes and features that are to different degrees identifiable: a portion of a person's face and the bone structure of a knee, down to what might be believably considered a rock structure and gatherings of curls that can at the very least be said to be flower-like. As a group, each illustration's individual logic, however tenuous, collapses. There is little to link them to one another, much less to any sort of order in which they might appear. The surrealism they exhibit matches that of Beckett's literary aesthetic. Both Gorey's images and Beckett's words are sensible in isolation, but notions of a larger whole dissolve to beautiful yet confounding vagaries of feeling. Gorey himself drew much inspiration from the surrealist school of thought, finding at an early age Max Ernst and René Magritte. Most of his artwork and books reflect a blending of that movement's dream logic with the gloomy atmospheres of Victorian engravings and literatures. The same blend appears here, in linework so fine it might be mistaken for the hatches of an engraving block, in the nonsequitur of the collection as a whole that yet defies nonsense, and in the overarching balance of discomfort and fascination.
The illustrations were cribbed by Gorey from an unknown old book, then modified by hand. He sent them to the book's publisher with no indication of their orientation or order; here, they are mounted in the order they appear in that final publication, a prospectus for which is included. Housed in chemise and clamshell box with leather and gilt label. A handful of the drawings show faint foxing, else a fine, complete, and imaginative archive. Item #31104