Friday, October 17, 2008

The Doubtful Guest

One of Edward Gorey’s most enduring and popular characters, the Doubtful Guest first appears on the scene in this self titled 1957 book published by Doubleday & Company. For a character that only appears in one book (and makes a brief appearance in Leaves from a Mislaid Album 1972), the Doubtful Guest is instantly recognizable to any Goreyphile. He has remained so popular over the past 51 years that there is a movie currently in the works with the Jim Hensen Workshops. How they will turn this slight, charming story into a full length movie has yet to be seen, but I for one am looking forward to it!

Due to his appearance, the Doubtful Guest is usually described as a penguin-like creature, but I have always found his behavior to be more cat-like. Knowing Mr. Gorey’s fondness for cats, it seems very likely that many of the DG’s personality traits come from felines. His habits of staring at walls, falling asleep in urns and “sleepwalking” around the house at night are all typical cat traits. Even the way he enters the story, coming to the door, moving in and being tolerated when he doesn't leave is reminiscent of a stray cat with a strong personality.

My copy of The Doubtful Guest is signed by Mr. Gorey and inscribed to me. In addition to being included in Amphigorey, this book has been reprinted several times and is currently in print.

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