Monday, February 23, 2009

The Blue Aspic

Inspired by another of his passions as inspiration for a story, Edward Gorey takes us into the world of grand opera with The Blue Aspic. Published in 1968 by Meredith Press, the first edition of this title is a hardback book with matching pictorial dust wrapper. Later printings were published by Hawthorne Press and have no dust wrapper. This story is included in Amphigorey Also. Both my first edition and second printing copies of this title are signed by Mr. Gorey on the title pages.

The Blue Aspic starts off at a trot when loner Jasper Ankle buys a minor ticket for a major operatic triumph - the night when Ortenzia Caviglia makes her unexpected debut replacing the reigning diva who has been gotten out of the way with a box of candied violets. Jasper's obsession with Caviglia grows as her star continues to rise with the help of an unseen, deadly hand...Jasper's? As Jasper's madness deepens, his descent accelerates to the inevitable, deadly consequence of his passion for the star.

The story is over the top, entertaining, and full of triumphs and tragedies, just like the best opera plots (and Soap Opera plots, another favorite entertainment of EG's). We are treated to Mr. Gorey's inventive names for operas - Lizzia Bordena, La reine des iguanes, La Vengence Posthume, and people - the Duke of Whaup, and Caviglia (whose name translates as "ankle"). As is true of The Gilded Bat, Mr. Gorey is in his artistic prime with the illustrations for this volume, gleaning inspiration from his subject matter. Each panel is meticulously rendered with detailed settings, people and atmosphere which transports us to the world of Grand Opera.

On an topical entertainment note - If you ever wondered what the Spoffish emeralds might look like, all you had to do was tune in to the 81st Academy Awards last night and look at Angelina Jolie. She was missing the necklace which The Duke of Whaup gave to Caviglia, but could easily have been wearing the earrings and ring from the set!

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