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Every tragic plot device that is supposed to befall an old-fashioned orphan happens to little Charlotte Sophia, the wide-eyed innocent of Edward Gorey’s The Hapless Child. One at a time, her loving parents fail her. Sent to a harsh boarding school, the other students mock her. Cast into the wide cruel world, Charlotte Sophia clings to life by a thread. And all the while, a miraculous happy ending is just around the corner. If you expect that happy ending to actually cross paths with Charlotte Sophia, however, then you don’t know Edward Gorey. Macabre master of the creepy-cute, Gorey (1925-2000) is notorious for his playfully ghoulish sense of humor. His quaint, crafty prose (Charlotte Sophia’s “only other relative, an uncle, was brained by a piece of masonry”) and his elegant, spidery pen-and-ink drawings combine to create whimsical little slices of slyly amusing melodrama. The Hapless Child, featuring a sad, sad orphan who you’ll snicker at with glee, is one of Gorey’s best.
posted Aug 17, 2010 at 11:35AM
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