F is for Fantods Exhibition
F is for Fantods
The 28 Books of Edward Gorey’s Fantod Press
Opening April 17th 2014 and running until December 28th
The Fantod Press published such illustrious writer and illustrators as Ogdred Weary, Mrs Regera Dowdy, Eduard Blutig, O. Müde, Raddory Gewe, Edward Pig, Garrod Weedy, Aedwyrd Gore, and someone named Om. All of them have one very important thing in common. All were Edward Gorey.
The centerpiece of the Edward Gorey House’s 2014 season, which opens April 17, is
F is for Fantods – The 28 Books of Edward Gorey’s Fantod Press. Resorting to the sure-fire means of getting one’s book published by becoming a publisher, Edward Gorey created The Fantod Press in 1962. His first title, writing as Ogred Weary, was The Beastly Baby, a small tale concerning a particularly unpleasant infant. Every publisher to which Gorey had pitched the work had rejected it. Over several decades, 27 more titles appeared with the Fantod Press imprint and wearing various author and illustrator names, names that were often anagrams of Gorey’s own. In addition to his frequent works for larger publishers, book-cover designs and magazine illustrations, set designs and theatrical puppet entertainments, the Fantod titles became an important part of Gorey’s work.
F is for Fantods includes among its wide-ranging mix of 28 titles cautionary tales, alphabet books, and fictionalized memoires: The Deranged Cousins, a tale of a murderous stroll inspired the seaside jaunts by Gorey and his Cape Cod cousins; The Tuning Fork, a misunderstood little girl’s revenge on her parents with the aid of a sea creature; and The Disrespectful Summons, in which a woman is carried—not entirely against her will—by a demon. With rarely seen original art and rough drafts of text with outtakes, F is for Fantods opens a window onto the restrained, graceful, and frequently hysterical mayhem that was Edward Gorey’s world. In spite of the dozen or more anagrams and pseudonyms that Gorey attached to these 28 books, the authorship is unmistakable.
Fantod is an archaic nineteenth century word meaning “a state of irritability, anxiety, or fidgets.” Gorey gave life and character to the word with his small benign dragon-like creature that became not quite a logo but a recurring motif on his Fantod books. Gorey introduced the creature in his first published book, The Unstrung Harp (1953). In that book Mr Earbrass encounters Fantod in an antique store as a stuffed creature under a glass dome. Usually depicted sucking on its tail, Fantod was perhaps inspired by the Ouroboros, an ancient emblem of the cyclic nature of the universe that is portrayed as a dragon or serpent feeding on its own tail.
Spring hours are 11am to 4pm, Thursday through Saturday; noon to 4pm on Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and $2 for children 6 to 12. Children under 6 free.
A view of the “stuffed Fantod under a glass jar” in Edward Gorey’s
This exhibit is made possible by donors like you.
©Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.
first book, The Unstrung Harp, 1953