A couple hundred years ago preachers used to begin their sermons by saying, "Think on death, think on death often,
" as a form of fear tactics to scare their parishioners into moral behavior and to instill them with a sense of a Hellish afterlife. Edward Gorey
would likely have approved of the motto, although his reason for it would be quite different. You see, Gorey did think on death often and whether it was because of fear or simply morbid curiosity, we may never truly know. But what I can tell you is that Gorey took the theme of death and let it run throughout almost all of his stories and illustrations in a darkly humorous way that is reminiscent of Charles Addams
The greatest example of Gorey having fun with death and mortality can be found in his wonderfully macabre book for children, The Gashlycrumb Tinies
, an abecedarian book that features 26 illustrations each depicting the death of one child whose name begins with a letter of the alphabet. Through ludicrous scenarios and clever rhyming, Gorey manages to create a work of art and literature that is highly creative and surprisingly charming considering its grim nature.
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.
...And so it continues with each page becoming more macabre and hilarious simultaneously as readers travel through an alphabetic listing of doom and demise for some very unlucky children.
The book may offend some overly protective conservative parents or scare some young children unable to see the delightful irreverence shown in the presence of death, but for fans of filmmakers like Tim Burton or writers like Edgar Allan Poe, this book will be right at home upon your dusty bookshelf (just be sure that it's fastened securely to you wall).