02 January 2009

Edward Gorey

Today marks the first of a series of guest reviews for Beard Revue. Erin Dollar is today’s guest reviewer.

When it comes to literary beards, I think Edward Gorey’s should be at the top of the list. Seriously, I’m sick of Hemingway and Whitman getting all the credit for being America's beardiest authors. Before Hemingway made a commitment to his bristly beard, he was often seen wearing a thick, Tom Selleck-esque moustache…hardly a literary look. And Whitman!?! Don’t even get me started on that guy’s crazy locks. They were out of control.

Neither author can really compete with Gorey’s fantastic beard. Gorey found his style and stuck with it: a full, frothy white beard that seemed to truly suit his demeanor. It was the perfect beard for a man who was described in his NY Times obit as both a recluse and “genial and gentle, and sometimes childish in his language, peppering his conversation with words like ‘jeepers’ and ‘zingy.’” By association, Gorey’s was a beard that didn't take itself too seriously.

As shown through his stories and illustrations, which were darkly humorous and full of antiquated Victorian fashions, Gorey seemed most comfortable in that place between serious and utterly ridiculous. I think his beard demonstrated what an excellent beard can be: versatile. His beard was friendly yet serious, formal, but also silly and surreal. I applaud Gorey, both for his incredible body of work (over 100 illustrated books, many featuring bearded characters!) and his dedication to his beard, a model for us all.

I’d rate it a 9.5/10, if only because Gorey probably wouldn’t like to have a higher ranking beard than Santa.

Editor’s elegy:
Gorey’s beard: A delicate balance between decorum and decadence, poison and poetry.