To the Editors:
Alison Lurie’s fine tribute to the late Edward Gorey [NYR, May 25] gave to me yet another glimpse of a man who has been lingering around the periphery of my childhood for some time now.
When an individual tells his or her personal story in a larger context, such as in a printed article, and does it well, the audience and author, both, gain as knowledge that was once dormant is then made to live again.
I would, however, like to propose that Ms. Lurie left one of Mr. Gorey’s muses missing, the goreyesque Allegra Kent. As is the nature of the muse, they tend, mysteriously, to congregate in threes, and Mr. Gorey was one to search out even that last muse not visible to the less studious, and who, occasionally, ends up in awkward worldly situations such as extricating herself from a shoelace caught in the front door while on her way out—but such was the nature of that offbeat and yet sublimely on-beat muse, Ms. Kent.
Always a bit on the fringe, and yet with the serpentine dexterity, originality, and grace that inhabits all who are of the E.G. world. Mr. Gorey’s book, The Raging Tide, or The Black Doll’s Imbroglio, is dedicated to the lovely ballerina, who corresponded with him by letter, after his departure from New York City, until his death. The two loved to invent gifts and prose that would delight the other. To see what came, and went, between the two, was to witness a filmlike event, played out in real time, and in real space with the US Post Office acting the role of sponsor, gallery, and consortium. This was fitting to the sensibilities of two, who loved to misuse a thing. Not putting the world to use according to category of material use, but through the process of the imagination that finds uses for the profanity that populates our lives, and recasts these outcasts in the roles of emergent stars.
I must admit, however, that I am of an offbeat and biased disposition and character myself. For I grew up with Ms. Kent, and watched with jealousy and awe as the sweetest handmade toys and characters arrived at our door, wrapped in brown paper, and addressed in an elegant hand to my mother.
S. Asherah Stern
White Plains, New York
Alison Lurie replies:
I’m very sorry that I didn’t include the brilliant dancer Allegra Kent in my list of Edward Gorey’s favorite ballerinas.
June 29, 2000