View Full Version : Mr. Darger and the Vivian Girls

06-17-2009, 03:21 PM
Henry Darger's stories of the Vivian Girls are probably some of the most intriguing secrets of literature. For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about, check out the Wikipedia page for Darger and youtube for the documentary of his life and work.

Does anyone happen to know if there has ever been a published version of these stories (comprising some 15,145 pages)? Or if there are plans to do so in the future? I can't seem to find anything to indicate this, but perhaps someone has more knowledge on this fascinating subject.

06-18-2009, 12:35 AM
So far as I know, the entire work has never been published, and probably won't be. I doubt if anyone would want to read it--length aside, I'm guessing it's not really very good. But a lot of books about Darger have been published, and several of them claim to have excerpts.

06-18-2009, 01:02 AM
Indeed, the length is incredible, but for mostly scholarly reasons, I want to have a shot at it. I've never heard any negative comments on the writing from the few people who have had access to it in the past (e.g., his landlord)--of course, these people aren't literary experts. I suppose I want to see it because, taken as a work of art, it seems to be a brilliant, strange, mysterious anomaly from the most unlikely of sources.

Chauchat Butterfly
06-18-2009, 01:47 AM
I'd read it. I'd read the hell out of it. Of course, who knows if it'll ever be published. I like to think that there's some group working in private feverishly editing it and preparing a full 15 volume series complete with reproductions of all the artwork that, when all is said and done, would probably be a limited edition (each volume, no doubt, coming out years appart) and cost a fortune to buy, but I would find some way to buy it anyway. I know it's unlikely but one can always hope.

I really want to read this ridiculous novel.

06-18-2009, 04:52 AM
I don't know, the people whose comments I've read were too busy saying things like "the Vivian girls are frequently naked, frequently tortured, and frequently tortured naked," to say things like "it's boring as hell." But even that has it's own possibilities, I suppose.

06-18-2009, 08:28 AM
It's intriguing as a window in Darger's mysterious life and psyche. I watched the documentary of his life and read some other things about him, but, for scholarly reasons, it would be fascinating to get a crack at some of his actual work.

06-18-2009, 06:45 PM
According to the Salon article (http://dir.salon.com/story/books/review/2002/07/23/darger/index.html) "Michael Bonesteel's "Henry Darger: Art and Selected Writings" and "Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal" by John M. MacGregor contain excerpts from the book. The article says there's an 8,000 page unfinished sequel also.

06-18-2009, 11:01 PM
The excerpts in Bonesteel's collection, as small a percentage of the whole as they are, really start to get repetitive after a while. They're also not that interesting after a while, because you get a picture of Darger's imaginary world and it's radically limited. The work isn't so long because lots of different things happen; the work is as long as it is because Darger revisits the same few things over and over and over and over.

There was a 2004 publication of some other excerpts, called The Disasters of War (http://www.amazon.com/Henry-Darger-Disasters-Klaus-Biesenbach/dp/398042653X/ref=pd_sim_b_3), which I haven't seen.

The thing is that publishing the entire body of Darger's work would take years, and many thousands of dollars just to scan the artwork into print-quality images, even if you had the permission. Then the printing costs would be astronomical if you wanted to get even remotely decent color reproduction. I can't see how it's feasible.