“OF FORGOTTEN ORIGIN AND UNKNOWN SIGNIFICANCE”: FIRST EDITION OF EDWARD GOREY’S FIRST BOOK, THE UNSTRUNG HARP, 1953, SIGNED BY HIM
GOREY, Edward. The Unstrung Harp; or, Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel. New York and Boston: Duell, Sloan & Pearce and Little, Brown, (1953). Small, slim octavo, original pictorial paper-covered boards, russet endpapers, original dust jacket. $950.
First edition of Edward Gorey’s first book, signed by Gorey on the title page.
Edmund Wilson described Gorey's work as "surrealistic and macabre, amusing and somber, nostalgic and claustrophobic, poetic and poisoned." A Harvard graduate, in 1953 Gorey "moved to Manhattan to take a job in the art department of Doubleday's new Anchor Books division, where he drew many of the covers for the early editions. Staying late at the office, he began work on his first book, The Unstrung Harp. Published later in the year, this slender volume depicts (in prose on one page facing an illustration on the next) the impermeably mundane life of a professional writer, who begins a new novel every other year on 18 November exactly" (ANB). Gorey is known for his "distinctive, instantly recognizable style: intricately detailed pen-and-ink drawings capture characters, fur-coated, turtle-necked, or dressed in 1920s or Edwardian garb, frozen in moments of stoicism. Somewhat Gothic and ostensibly grim, these images are usually accompanied by macabre stories of death, dread, and gore or by humorous verses detailing situations of horror" (Silvey, 278). Toledano A1a.
Book fine, dust jacket with small chip to rear panel, clean and bright. A near-fine signed copy.