Book Excerpt: "The Frightful Storm"

Darger's Writing

The following passage is excerpted from Volume I of Henry Darger's novel, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in what is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. We are introduced to Governor Robert Vivian, emperor of the Catholic kingdom Abbieannia, and his seven daughters: Violet, Joice, Jennie, Catherine, Hettie, Daisy, and Evangeline.

Robert Vivian himself was the father of seven little Vivian Girls whose beauty could never be painted had they been seen for real. Of Violet, Joice, Jennie, and Evangeline, their beauty could never be described, but their nature and ways in goodness and soul was still more pretty and spotless. And no Evangeline St. Clare could beat them in their kind loving ways, and their love for God. They were always willing to do as they were told, keeping away from bad company and going to Mass and Holy Communion every day, and living the lives of little saints. The watchfulness of their parents made them what they were. They were Abbieannians by birth, but their parents, dreading the great Abbieannian storms, had left Abbieannia and first went to Angelinia. Hanson Vivian, who lost his wife and daughter, was their uncle and as pious as their father, but he was a Hercules for build, and a regular Samson for strength.

Way before Robert Vivian's children were born, Hanson had a pretty daughter by the name of Violet Vivian. She herself was a regular Eva St. Clare and also died at the same age as Little Eva did. She was killed by the great typhoon which swept Abbieannia, as already described in the first few pages of this chapter.

Detail from At Jennie Richie Assuming nuded appearance by compulsion race ahead of coming storm to warn their father
Detail from At Jennie Richee Assuming nuded appearance by compulsion race ahead of coming storm to warn their father. Copyright Kiyoko Lerner.

By the time our story opens, twenty-seven years after Hanson had left Abbieannia, three of Robert's other daughters, Daisy, Catherine, and Hettie, had been caught out in a large woods just as a terrific typhoon broke loose, sweeping a portion of the eastern coast of Angelinia. The frightful storm had lasted over two days, devastating a good many forests, and wrecking many cities and towns in its path. After the great storm, the little girls could not be found, though close searches had been made everywhere. Many days had passed, and still they had not been found. Robert had to give up the search in grief, though he, being a Catholic, did not give up prayer. He telegraphed the cities of Jennie Richee, Mic-Hollester, and Jennie-Wren-Town, and even Marcucian and Vivian Wickey, but no trace of them could be found.

-- from Volume I, pp. 14-17.

Next: Michael Bonesteel examines the religious significance of the Vivian Girls and the nature of sexual dualism in Darger's work. »