Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Edward Gorey Art & The House with a Clock in its Walls

A wonderful book I read as a child. 

The House With a Clock in its Walls - published in 1993, written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey.

When I was a little girl (about ten years old), I remember a librarian suggesting this series of books to me, and I was hooked!

As chance would have it, I recently found a tattered copy at a used books sale at the same library, and wonder if it may have been the copy I had read years before. For 25 cents it was mine! It's rather beaten up, the pages are yellowed and the corners creased,  but I think it gives the book character! Imagine how many happy children like myself were reading this same book?

Here's a little synopsis from Amazon that describes the story quite well:

Lewis always dreamed of living in an old house full of secret passageways, hidden rooms, and big marble fireplaces. And suddenly, after the death of his parents, he finds himself in just such a mansion--his Uncle Jonathan's. When he discovers that his big friendly uncle is also a wizard, Lewis has a hard time keeping himself from jumping up and down in his seat. Unfortunately, what Lewis doesn't bank on is the fact that the previous owner of the mansion was also a wizard--but an evil one who has placed a tick-tocking clock somewhere in the bowels of the house, marking off the minutes until the end of the world. And when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead on Halloween night, the clock only ticks louder and faster. Doomsday draws near--unless Lewis can stop the clock!

The second part of this post is about the illustrator, Edward Gorey. His work is just fascinating to me. He illustrated many childrens books, using his charming inking techniques. I first heard about him in my illustration class, when a student had chosen to do her presentation on him, and his artwork resonated with me. It was familiar, and I just couldn't place where I'd seen it before. A year or so passed, and the name Gorey stuck in the back of my mind.

When I found this book at the library a few months later, it all came back to me. I looked through the book, appreciating his illustrations in a new way; with a mature artist's eye. The simplicity of the characters, and how much it told about them. In many of the pictures, you never even see Lewis' face. I think that really says something about Lewis and his own self-confidence issues. I love the richly detailed backgrounds, and patterns, textures, and ink work. Absolutely amazing and inspiring.

I poured over his online biography, where I read that even though he had illustrated MANY, and I mean MANY childrens books, he didn't actually consider his illustrations for children specifically. In fact, "although Gorey's books were popular with children, he did not associate with children much and had no particular fondness for them.[wikipedia]".

That made me smile a little. A lot of people associate my illustrations with children. I mean there certainly are a lot of fairies, elves, enchanting characters and scenery, etc.. so isn't it for children? The answer to that is yes and no. It's really for anyone who likes the genre. To me, my art is a representation of the Faerie Realm, whether it's real in reality or just the imagination, it's a place my mind settles in and runs wild. I have to wonder if Mr. Gorey ever thought that way about his artwork too.

He also created wordless books, and was quoted to have said that, "ideally, if anything [was] any good, it would be indescribable." He experimented with pop up books and match box sized books, and wordless books filled with pictures of inanimate objects. I've seen many of these themes in products on Etsy and have to wonder if Mr. Gorey inadvertently began a trend of some sort, or was following one himself. Perhaps neither.

Both the story and the art in this series make for an incredibly fascinating reading experience. I just couldn't put the book down (even as an adult). I love the gothic tone and imagery, the original characters, and mysterious plot. It is a book I will definitely pass on to my children, if I happen to have any!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Every comment is read and appreciated! I love hearing your thoughts! :)
Feel free to leave a link to your blog so I can check it out! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...