The much loved Adams’ Family TV show was “inspired” by the ghoulish cartoons of Charles Adams from the New Yorker magazine. But what about the characters of Gomez and Morticia in particular? I don’t think there was any precedent for them in Chas. Adams’ work. Could it be that the fin de siecle French author, Barbey d’Aurevilly, is the source? Certainly, his story, “Happiness in Crime,” in the collection Weird Women, depicts a pair who could easily have been the model for that madly passionate couple, so in love with one another that the rest of the world just about ceases to exist, Gomez and Morticia Adams. L’Amour Fou, or Mad Love.
In the beginning of the story, “Happiness in Crime,” the narrator is strolling through the zoo with his elderly friend, Dr. Forty. They see a couple – tall, austere, dressed in black, the woman extremely beautiful, the man, a bit of a dandy – looking at a black panther. The woman stares at the beast so intently that it cringes and closes its eyes. She unbuttons her glove and pushes her hand through the bars of the cage, then she gives the animal a slap! The panther snaps its jaws at her, but succeeds only in swallowing her glove. The man grabs the woman’s hand, kisses it passionately, and exclaims in a tone of awestruck love, “Fool!” Remind you of anyone..? (“Darling, when you speak French, you drive me wild!!!)
The two of them have a crime in their past that allowed them to come together. The doctor knows their secret, but is sworn not to reveal it. He’s happy to keep mum: He loves to observe them, to try and figure out how they manage to be so happy in crime, so untroubled by their evil deed, and he wonders if there is a kernel of discord at the center of their all-consuming passion. (There isn’t!) The world does not exist for them, only each other.
The author invokes this scuplture, by Canova, to describe the nature of the their total absorption in their love and their secret embraces.