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Edward Gorey's Creepy Cape Cod

October 18, 2010 in American literature, Dark New England, Edward Gorey, Feature articles

All Images Licensed by Edward Gorey Charitable TrustReading this week’s feature article, on Edward Gorey’s creepy Cape Cod, I was put in mind of a book I once saw during one of my many trips to upstate New York.

I first went to visit the Clermont mansion in Germantown, New York in the winter of 2008.  I had gone to see the impressive grounds, which boast a beautifully manicured garden and a breathtaking view across the Hudson River.  Unfortunately, the weather was not amenable to strolling around, so I wound up being forced inside to examine the relics of a family long dead.

This turned out to be an unexpected blessing.  The old house was filled with fascinating artifacts, including a very old, very famous portrait of Andrew Jackson.  My favorite item, however, was (naturally) a large, leather-bound book.  Kept safe under its layer of glass, the book was opened to a page depicting a small girl in several different situations.  In the first, she tucked a poker into the fire.  In the second, she leaned closer.  In the third, she ran as her dress spread out behind her, ablaze with orange flames.  The moral?  Don’t play with fire.

This was, surprisingly, a children’s book.  Back when it was written, childhood was seen as a dangerous time, filled with unexpected perils.  Death was always around every corner.  Nowadays, we tend to favor happy books with happier endings, though this was not always the case.

Perhaps this is why Edward Gorey is one of my favorite children’s authors, along with Roald Dahl.  Both realized that childhood was not always fun and games; sometimes it felt dark and dangerous.  Their works don’t coddle children or shelter them from the world.  Instead, they recognize the weirdness of being a kid, the sense that everything is bigger and more threatening than most adults would like to admit.

Join us this week as we examine the life and works of Edward Gorey in our latest feature article, A Brief History of Edward Gorey’s Creepy Cape Cod, part two of our Dark New England series.

(An LT extra, check out a review of the Hudson Valley’s Pumpkin Blaze!)

Announcement: Literary Traveler Goes Dark For October

September 16, 2010 in American literature, announcements, Dark New England, New England Travel

In the rich literary tradition of Photo via Matt Trostle's Flickr StreamAmerica, tales of the supernatural have always occupied a special place. Stories of the fantastic and the unreal have not only entered our imaginations, tainting the way we think about the very ground below us, but also the cannon of great literature. From Washington Irving to Edgar Allan Poe, we have always celebrated the authors that have the power to make our skin crawl and our nights restless.

This fall, Literary Traveler will feature a new theme for our feature articles: Dark New England. As the days lengthen, and All Hallows Eve approaches, we will be publishing several articles that center around some of America’s best horror writers, including Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe. We will also highlight one of our favorite underrated writers: Shirley Jackson, author of The Lottery fame.

Join us as we journey to Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts in search of what makes New England so uniquely suited to images of ghosts and specters, stories of hauntings and awakenings.

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