Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer (英語) ハードカバー – 2011/9/15
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Edward Gorey and Peter Neumeyer met in the summer of 1968. Gorey had been contracted by Addison-Wesley to illustrate "Donald and the...," a childrens story written by Neumeyer. On their first encounter, Neumeyer managed to dislocate Goreys shoulder when he grabbed his arm to keep him from falling into the ocean. In a hospital waiting room, they pored over Goreys drawings for the first time together, and Gorey infused the situation with much hilarity. This was the beginning of an invigorating friendship, fueled by a wealth of letters and postcards that sped between the two men through the fall of 1969.
Those letters, published here for the first time, are remarkable in their quantity and their content. While the creative collaborations of Gorey and Neumeyer centered on illustrated books, they held wide-ranging interests; both were erudite, voracious readers, and they sent each other many volumes. Reading their discussions of these books, one marvels at the beauty of thoughtful (and merry) discourse driven by intellectual curiosity.
The letters also paint an intimate portrait of Edward Gorey, a man often mischaracterized as macabre or even ghoulish. His gentleness, humility, and brilliance--interwoven with his distinctive humor--shine in these letters; his deft artistic hand is evident on the decorated envelopes addressed to Neumeyer, 38 of which are reproduced here.
During the time of their correspondence, Peter Neumeyer was teaching at Harvard University and at SUNY Stony Brook, on Long Island. His acumen and compassion, expressed in his discerning, often provocative missives, reveal him to be an ideal creative and intellectual ally for Gorey.
More than anything else, "Floating Worlds" is the moving memoir of an extraordinary friendship. Gorey wrote that he felt they were part of the same family, and I dont mean just metaphorically. I guess that even more than I think of you as a friend,
What I thought I was getting was mostly quality scans of his actual letters. His handwriting, his doodles, his typewriter keys. Though there are a fair amount of images, such as the envelopes in which the correspondence was sent or a certain selection of included doodles... mostly you will only get the text here. For me, that's a major downfall. A person's handwriting, the manner in which they write a letter, anything else included in the envelope, says so much about a person. Simply reading a transcription leaves something to be desired.
A note on the text. I understand that some content is probably personal and was omitted. A large amount of the content is "business" related as the two were collaborating on a book (which is how the letters started), and yet another large part is witty, canny, whatever you want to say, typical Gorey banter. His illustrations and books are heavily mirrored in his letter writing. This man is insane. I find a lot of it interesting, I like to get into people's minds, even if it is a facade.
So bottom line, be aware this will be predominantly text transcriptions with not a lot of illustrative fodder. Very interesting nonetheless.
Both men are brilliant when discussing their respective craft, are unintentionally quite funny, self-effacing, and dedicated to literature in a way that makes one wonder how they made time for anything else. Their shared sensibilities on reading and writing, of culture, movies and theatre is so remarkable and insightful - and all of it hammered out on typewriters within a handful of months. Starting September of 1968 and more or less ending in October 1969, where on 27.x.69 Gorey writes: "I am in one of my more extreme Japanese phases, and have given up thinking, acting, and having opinions." But the most endearing - and enduring theme, is the birth and raising of 'Donald', of 'Donald and the...' (1969), 'Donald Has a Difficulty' (1970), 'Donald and the Umbrella' (unpublished), 'Donald Makes a List' (unpublished), 'Donald Helps' (unpublished), et al. Sadly, the 'Donald' books end with their second.
I now know no better place to become acquainted with Edward Gorey, the man and the artist. Through his own hand, Gorey gives us not just letters to a friend, he slowly reveals himself, to a long-lost sibling, exchanging ideas as only a soul mate can. Until 'Floating Worlds', one could only guess what Edward Gorey was made of. Thanks to Peter Neumeyer, we now have solid clues. And the artwork Gorey used to illuminate Neumeyer's envelopes? Worth the price of the book alone!