The Raging Tide: or, The Black Doll's Imbroglio is yet another interactive book by Edward Gorey. In this publication, we once again see Mr. Gorey's child-like fascination with books and the experience of reading. On each page, the reader is asked to answer a multiple choice question. Based on the answer, the reader is instructed to turn to a specific page and continue the story. In this way, the book tells several stories using the same characters.
This is a perfect Gorey book for a young reader. The characters who inhabit this story are Figbash, Hooglyboo, Skrump and Naeelah, and their names are sure to produce giggles when read aloud. The four are constantly acting like unruly small children - hitting or throwing things at one another - so it is appropriate that each looks like a nursery toy that is a bit the worse for wear. The drawings for this title contain some of Edward Gorey's most surreal landscapes which are littered with giant thumbs sticking up out of the ground or carpet (these will appear in a series of his fine art etchings).
Published in 1987 by Beaufort Books, New York as a trade hard cover in illustrated boards with a matching dust jacket, The Raging Tide was also made available to collectors as a signed limited edition with a tipped in colophon page in an edition of 200 numbered copies and 26 lettered (A to Z) copies. The Raging Tide was included in Amphigorey Again. I am showing copies #M/26 and #129/200.
The lettered (A - Z) copies were issued with a wonderful surprise for the Gorey enthusiast. With each of the 26 copies, Mr. Gorey included a personally made, hand-sewn doll of the character Figbash. The Raging Tide marks the first appearance of Figbash, a dancing, prancing creature with no eyes or mouth, but a definite zest for life. The Figbash dolls were sewn in a flat black cotton and stuffed with rice. Mr. Gorey soon began a cottage industry in Figbash dolls, and I will address these unique Gorey collectibles in the next post.
The earliest printings of The Raging Tide were printed with a mistake to the dust wrapper. The illustration on the dust wrapper is meant to extend completely across the front of the book and end where the flaps fold inside the book. On the very first printings, the illustration was printed short so that it did not extend to the fold, leaving a white line near the flaps (see the dust jacket pictured lower left). Almost all of these dust wrappers were destroyed, but Gotham Book Mart retained a few for collectors and put them on first edition copies of the book along with a correct dust wrapper. The trade copy I am showing to the left is signed and inscribed to me by Mr. Gorey.