Saturday, August 22, 2009

Edward Gorey Drawing of Dr. Termite and Perdita


I found this great picture of what appears to be Dr. Termite and Perdita from the novel "Arsole Fantüme, Gentleman Immoralist" as drawn by the late, great Edward Gorey. It apparently appeared in a copy of "Look" magazine in the late 1960s.

From the original source posting:

All the Gorey drawings intrigued me, but this one probably most of all. I was haunted by the mysterious "Dr. T." What was he a doctor of? What did the "T" stand for? Why did he always carry a poodle with him? And, why was he wearing what appeared to be a mask?


I've gotten a lot of emails from people saying I've unfairly neglected discussing the psychiatrist who wears a veil because, as he claims, his features are so disturbing they might frighten his patients. It's true that Dr. Termite is one of the more intriguing characters in the book, with his eccentricities, his inscrutable hypnotic skills with "therapeutic speech," and his devotion to his "faithful companion," the poodle bitch called Perdita. I suppose at some point I should go through and more thoroughly introduce all the characters, but anyone who's read the novel knows that it's full to bursting with odd personalities, and it's difficult to do justice to all of them.

Of course, Dr. Termite might actually be Arsole Fantüme, in disguise. The book is full of characters who are clearly not who they appear, and are clearly hiding behind masks. Or veils. As Inspector Lefévre says, "His ability to change his appearance and elude capture means that he could be anyone, at any time!"

Regarding the Gorey drawing: I have never seen this image before, but looking at it now, it's clear to see that it was inspired by the character Dr. Termite. It shouldn't be a surprise that Gorey would have been aware of the macabre and unusual "Arsole Fantüme," considering he wrote the introduction to Ballantine's 1987 reissue of the second "Fantomas" novel, under the title "The Silent Executioner."

Anyway, this is a great find, and I appreciate being able to post it here.

UPDATE: Order the novel Arsole Fantüme, Gentleman Immoralist from amazon here.

Edward Gorey Dr. Termite and Perdita pic source.

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