Words | Henry Darger

Screen shot 2013-06-25 at 6.18.42 PMImage Courtesy of American Folk Art Museum

Brace yourself, this post will contain over 15,000 pages…or it will tell you about a 15,000+ page story in 15,000 pages or less. The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, was written by artist and Chicago custodian Henry Darger. The title’s length is no match for the story’s verbosity, which is complemented by hundreds of images handcrafted by Darger in his spare time (when?)

What is almost unfathomable is that Darger’s 15,145 page, single-spaced work emerged posthumously, discovered by his landlords not long before his death—the day after his birthday on April 13, 1973.  The documentary, “In the Realms of the Unreal” recounts this fortunate discovery, as well as Darger’s life. And if that isn’t enough to make your head spin, Darger wrote two other works, one of which I would use as a memoir title for my time living in Chicago: Crazy House: Further Adventures in Chicago (10,000 pages) and The History of My Life (206 pages). All of that adds up to one thing: Darger must have made one hell of a bachelor. 

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