Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
The War of the Worlds (Paperback)
by H. G. Wells, illustrated by Edward Gorey
When massive, intelligent aliens from Mars touch down in Victorian England and threaten to destroy the civilized world, humanity’s vaunted knowledge proves to be of little use. First published in 1898, H. G. Wells’s masterpiece of speculative fiction has thrilled and delighted generations of readers, spawned countless imitations, and inspired dramatizations by such masters as Orson Welles and Steven Spielberg. The War of the Worlds is a fantasy that is startlingly up-to-date yet in touch with the most ancient of human fears.
In 1960, Edward Gorey prepared a set of his inimitable pen-and-ink drawings to illustrate a new edition of The War of the Worlds for the legendary Looking Glass Library. Characteristically quirky, elegant, and entrancing, Gorey’s visual take on Wells’s seminal tour de force was unavailable until 2005, when NYRB Classics reissued it in a special hardcover edition. Now in paperback, this edition brings back for today’s readers a richly rewarding collaboration between two modern masters of all that’s wonderful and strange.
Since H. G. Wells published War of the Worlds in 1898, artists have struggled to depict his alien invaders. Perhaps none succeeded so well as the illustrator Edward Gorey. . . . His wonderfully creepy 1960 edition eschews the Robby the Robot designs of pulp fiction, and the slickness of the bad 1953 film, instead delivering an insectlike infestation of pen-and-ink tendrils.
The most delightful of the many editions of The War of the Worlds includes illustrations by Edward Gorey (originally published in 1960 and long out of print until now), in which those creatures look like giant mushrooms on spindly legs, primitive ancestors of the Spielberg tripods.
—Caryn James, The New York Times
These illustrations perfectly depict not only Wells’s half-sinister, half-ridiculous Martians, but also the destruction they leave in their wake: ‘a patch of silent common, smouldering in places, and with a few dark, dimly seen objects lying in contorted attitudes here and there,’ for example. How Gorey-esque.
—Joshua Glenn, The Boston Globe
This novel was tailor-made for Gorey. His black-and-white etching-like drawing style makes the aliens (dainty but oppressive-looking hydras), landscapes and figures suitably spooky and Victorian. Which, of course, they were.
—Karen Krangle, The Vancouver Sun
It was creepy when he wrote it back in 1898, and it’s creepy now. Re-released in a handsome new edition, The War of the Worlds, illustrated by the remarkable Edward Gorey, preys on our fears.
—Marc Horton, Edmonton Journal
[The War of the Worlds is] a perfect showcase for Gorey’s stark, unsettling work with its ominous shadings and eerie peculiarities . . . [and] Gorey’s work is true to the essence of Wells’ novel.
—The Chicago Tribune