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Doubtful Guest

April 1st, 2011
By E.S. Hoolahan 


The doubtful guest / by Edward Gorey. New York : Dodd, Mead, 1978, c1957. © 2011 The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust

For this month's Athenæum Author feature we are pleased to present the transcript of a recent interview with the reclusive, titular subject of Edward Gorey's 1957 opus, The Doubtful Guest.  According to Gorey's account Mr. Guest, "came seventeen years ago-- and to this day It has shown no intention of going away."   Guest, or D.G. to his friends, has thus been a member of the Athenæum since 1940, when he was ousted from the Edwardian splendor of an unidentified manor house somewhere in England.  Known for hiding bath towels, lurking in soup tureens, and even "tear[ing] out whole chapters from books", D.G. has outgrown the juvenile pranks of his wild years, and today earns his living ghost-writing magazine articles for several nationally known authors who value equally his discretion and literary flair.  A fixture of the Athenæum's newspaper reading-room, D.G. is also fond of Wednesday tea where the vertiginous cliffs of stilton he habitually heaps upon his plate always elicit nods of admiration from lookers-on. 

E.S. HoolahanI notice you're still wearing your trademark scarf and white canvas sneakers.

Doubtful Guest:  It's just easier to get dressed when you don't have to think about what to wear.  I have a bunch of scarves like this at home, and I just rotate them.  A lot folks think I started wearing the sneakers because I wanted to look like Edward Gorey, but he actually got the idea from me.  I don't let that bother me. 

E.H.:  Without revealing too much about your clients, what kind of ghost-writing work are you doing these days?

D.G.:  I've been doing a lot of research on somnambulism for a writer of popular science.  I'm rather knowledgeable on the topic, being a sleepwalker myself.

E.H.:  "Through the house it would aimlessly creep, in spite of the fact its being asleep. . ."

D.G.:  Yes, that's how Gorey put it.

E.H.:  Why do you suppose he consistently referred to you as an "it" and never "he" or "she"?

D.G.:  I'll be the first to admit my hairstyle is rather androgynous.  I think he was embarrassed to ask my gender.  I assume you possess no such inhibitions?

E.H.:  Of course not.  Moving on, is it true the police once questioned you in connection with, quoting Gorey, "carry[ing] of objects of which [you] grew fond"?

D.G.:  The owner of the pocket watch in question dropped charges once I had explained that I was merely protecting the watch when I dropped it into the pond.

E.H.:  Will we ever get to see a book published under your own name?

D.G.:  It's doubtful.

Gorey, Edward.  The Doubtful Guest.  New York:  Dodd, Mead & Company, 1978.   
Library of Congress Classification
PS 3513 .O614 D6 1978

See Also:

Cathcart, Thomas.  Heidegger and a Hippo Walk through those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in between.  
New York:  Viking, 2009.   
Library of Congress Classification
 BD444 .C38 2009

Edmund, Peggy.  Toaster's Handbook; Jokes, Stories and Quotations.  
New York:  Wilson, 1916.   
Cutter Classification
VE4 .9Ed5

Katsoulis, Melissa.  Literary Hoaxes: An Eye-Opening History of Famous Frauds.  
New York: Skyhorse Publishing, c2009.   
Library of Congress Classification
PN171.F6 K37 2009

Peterson, T.F.  Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT.  
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003.  
Library of Congress Classification
T171.M49 P48 2003

The Sokal Hoax: The Sham that Shook the Academy / Edited by the editors of Lingua franca.  
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, c2000.   
Library of Congress Classification
Q175.37 .S65 2000