There was a lot of fuss last week about Edward Gorey’s 88th birthday, even though he died at the age of 75. There was a Google doodle and he featured in The Guardian and the Los Angeles Times and at Brain Pickings to mention just three, then Margaret McLellan sent me this catalogue of gruesome infant deaths – Hi Chris, This came today. I thought you might enjoy it. Best wishes, Maggie.
A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.
B is for Basil assaulted by bears.
C is for Clara who wasted away.
D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh.
E is for Ernest who choked on a peach.
F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech.
G is for George smothered under a rug.
H is for Hector done in by a thug.
I is for Ida who drowned in a lake.
J is for James who took lye by mistake.
K is for Kate who was struck with an axe.
L is for Leo who swallowed some tacks.
M is for Maud who was swept out to sea.
N is for Neville who died of ennui.
O is for Olive run through with an awl.
P is for Prue trampled flat in a brawl.
Q is for Quentin who sank in a mire.
R is for Rhoda consumed by fire.
S is for Susan who perished of fits.
T is for Titus who flew into bits.
U is for Una who slipped down a drain.
V is for Victor squashed under a train.
W is for Winnie embedded in ice.
X is for Xerxes devoured by mice.
Y is for Yorick whose head was knocked in.
Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin.
What an unfortunate bunch. I think Edward Gorey’s macabre humour is an acquired taste. I’m not sure I’ve got it yet. I first found his work in the mid 70s on Michael Mantler’s album The Hapless Child which also featured Robert Wyatt, who turned up yesterday with Kevin Ayers. My favourite Gorey image is still Innocence, on the Bicycle of Propriety, carrying the urn of Reputation safely over the Abyss of Indiscretion, which can be found here. Also here.