Words of War:
H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds
That's One Great Cover!
The 1960 Looking Glass Library edition re-printed
Released May 2005
Reviewed June 6, 2005.
Order at Amazon.com
For more information visit the NYRB Classics 'The War of the World' site
Four-color cover illustration, no dust jacket
Three black and white full page illustrations
29 black and white text illustrations
Hardcover: 250 pages
Publisher: New York Review of Books
Distributor: Publishers Group West
10 June 2005 Special to Goreyography
Edward Gorey’s line drawings always feel like they’re a hundred years old, and H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds first appeared 108 years ago. Both stir the same nostalgic senses. New York Review Books Classics celebrates their union in a 2005 release of 'Edward Gorey’s' The War of the Worlds, first published in 1960. Gorey’s 29 text illustrations, unremarkable on first glance – that is compared to The Doubtful Guest (1957) or The Object Lesson (1958), or even to Warwick Goble’s illustrations in the serialized first appearance in Pearson’s magazine in 1897 – do end up working very well when digested together. And together, the vivid first-person narrative and drawings creep out the shadows into the imagination. Gorey’s gloomy, somber silhouettes serve as backdrops for the swirling confusion the narrator encounters in every chapter.
The catastrophe unfolds through the eyes of this faceless man, the weight of his horror carried to the end, and the drawings carry the same weight. Only the Martians and their gangly machines are illuminated, and the cover illustration presents them in all their menacing glory. The wraparound illustrations on the boards alone is worth its’ having, though a dust jacket would’ve made it extra special.
When Looking Glass Library (Gorey was art director and a co-founder) published War of the Worlds in 1960, many probably recalled an event just eleven years earlier. Riots in Quito, Ecuador, resulted in 20 deaths in reaction to the radio broadcast of a localized version of The War of the Worlds in 1949. And eleven years before that, 1.2 million nervous Americans braced for invasion on Halloween night, with Orson Welles on the air waves in 1938. The War of the Worlds moves mysteriously between two worlds. Not between Mars and Earth. Between fiction and non-fiction. Impelling entertainment or mass hysteria. It’s all in how it’s delivered. The War of the Worlds can be vitriolic stuff.
-- Glen Emil,
NYRB's 'The War of the Worlds' poster
Special thanks to Linda Hollick at New York Review Books for her kind assistance.
©2005 Goreyography+WZP. All rights reserved. Images used by permission.