The Gormenghast Novels books – Avengersinfinitywarfullmovie.de

A thing of beauty, like the words it contains carefully bound, with sumptuous illustrations I m often wary of pictures in adult books, but Peake was a painter and illustrator as well as a writer, so I make an exception in this case He sketched in the margins of most of his writings, as he wrote Artistic symbiosis Two of my three favourite books, plus a third I ve learned to like, in one volume, with an excellent introduction by China Mieville, and Sebastian Peake s note about the illustrat A thing of beauty, like the words it contains carefully bound, with sumptuous illustrations I m often wary of pictures in adult books, but Peake was a painter and illustrator as well as a writer, so I make an exception in this case He sketched in the margins of most of his writings, as he wrote Artistic symbiosis Two of my three favourite books, plus a third I ve learned to like, in one volume, with an excellent introduction by China Mieville, and Sebastian Peake s note about the illustrations The content is covered in separate reviews Titus Groan review HERE.Gormenghast review HERE.Titus Alone review HERE.All my Peake Gormenghast reviews including biographies memoirs and books about his art are on a shelf, HERE.Most of the biographical detail is in my review of Winnington s Vast Alchemies, HERE.OverviewPeake planned many Titus books, but managed only these three, plus the short story Boy in Darkness which I reviewed HERE After Titus Groan, he wrote to his wife, Maeve Groan I feel could grow giant, imaginative wings, flare out majestically, ludicrously, fantastically, earthly, gloriously into creation, unlike anything else in English literature These three books are in many ways uncategorisable often classed as fantasy, the first two have the feel of historical fiction, but with a twist of magical realism But the third volume has futuristic aspects What is perhapssurprising is that in the decades since Titus Groan was first published, there haven t been any successful books in that unique category They are whimsical, detailed, leisurely, poignant, vivid, gothic, caricatures but believable, not surreal Amazingly detailed descriptions, and extraordinarily extended metaphors, especially of characters faces, skin and other physical features and of candles and their drips Not afraid to go off on a lengthy tangent eg when likening the cracks in plaster to an ancient map, he goes on to imagine journeys across such a landscape So, in some ways, quite slow, yet always a page turner Peake is not afraid to kill off numerous significant characters There is an overwhelming sense of place in the first two, but the time period is slippery There is a medieval air swords and feet, not guns an cars , but medicines, safety pins, liqueurs, tea, and celluloid are mentioned However, there is no mention of shops and businesses, news, politics, theatres, concerts, or police no society or institutions other than the castle itself The third book is definitely in the near future floating electronic spying devices and death rays , but there it s the location that is disorientingly elusive and yet vivid Regarding the place, Gormenghast is a central character Maybe the main character even in Titus Alone, which mostly takes place elsewhere And yet although Peake sketched most of the main characters, oftenthan once, and often with great beauty and detail, his illustrations of the castle itself are few and sketchy There are echoes of Dickens characterisation and odd names for people , Kafka insignificant individual subsumed by tradition and procedure also hard to locate the historical period , Tolkien is often mentioned though I can t see much of a similarity Conversely, it is perhaps a minor influence for Paul Stewart s Edge Chronicles for children.Quotes from Titus GroanMy review HERE Peake s sketch of Steerpike and Barquentine Lord Sepulchrave walked with slow strides, his head bowed Fuchsia mouched Doctor Prunesquallor minced The twins propelled themselves forward vacantly Flay spidered his path Swelter wallowed his Swelter s voice is like the warm, sick notes of some prodigious mouldering bell Cracks in the wall A thousand imaginary journeys might be made along the banks of these rivers of an unexplored world A similar idea in Boy in Darkness, when Titus looks at a mildewed spot on the ceiling The Countess s room was untidy to the extent of being a shambles Everything had the appearance of being put aside for the moment His Sourdust face was very lined, as though it had been made of brown paper that had been crunched by some savage hand before being hastily smoothed out and spread over the tissues The Earl s life, and to some extent everyone else s, is governed by detailed and largely pointless arcane ritual The second tome was full of blank pages and was entirely symbolic If, for instance, his Lordship had been three inches shorter, the costumes, gestures and even the routes would have differed from those described in the first tome It was not certain what significance the ceremony held but the formality was no less sacred for it being unintelligible She Fuchisa appeared to inhabit, rather than to wear her clothes as empty as an unremembered heart the stage in Fuchsia s attic Today I saw a great pavement among the clouds made of grey stones, bigger than a meadow No one goes there Only a heron Today I saw a tree growing out of a high wall, and people walking on it far above the ground Today I saw a poet look out of a narrow window I saw today a horse swimming in the top of a tower I saw a million towers today The twins faces were quite expressionless, as though they were preliminary layouts for faces and were waiting for sentience to be injected An extraordinary metaphor at the end of this one about Irma Prunesquallorthe appearance of having been plucked and peeled than of cleanliness, though clean she was in the sense of a rasher of bacon Treading in a pool of his own midnight We are all imprisoned by the dictionary We choose out of that vast, paper walled prison our convicts, the little black printed words, when in truth we need fresh sounds to utter, new enfranchised noises which would produce a new effect Burned books are the corpses of thought lambent darkness is a good oxymoron Lightning is, a light like razors It not only showed to the least minutiae the anatomy of masonry, pillars and towers, trees, grass blades and pebbles, it conjured these things, it constructed them from nothing then a creation reigned in a blinding and ghastly glory as a torrent of electric fire coursed across the heavens The outpouring of a continent of sky had incarcerated and given a weird hyper reality of closeness to those who were shielded from all but the sound of the storm Quotes from GormenghastMy review HERE Peake s illustration of Bellgrove and Titus marblesporous shadow land not so much a darkness as something starved for moonbeams There is nowhere else you will only tread a circle everything comes to Gormenghast suckled on shadows, weaned as it were on webs of ritual He was pure symbol even the ingenious system of delegation whereon his greatness rested was itself worked out by another He had once made a point of being at least one mental hour ahead of his class but who had long since decided to pursue knowledge on an equal footing a smile she was concocting, a smileambitious than she had so far dared to invent Every muscle in her face was pulling its weight Not all of them knew in which direction to pull, but their common enthusiasm was formidable words that are proud with surrender Their presence and the presence of their few belongings seemed to reinforce the vacancy of their solitude A window let in the light and, sometimes, the sun itself, whose beams made of this silent, forgotten landing a cosmos, a firmament of moving motes, brilliantly illumined, an astral and at the same time solar province Where the sunbeams struck, the floor would flower like a rose, a wall break out in crocus light, and the banisters would flame like rings of coloured snakes the very lack of ghosts was in itself unnerving It s positively Wodehousian in places, made one wonder how this man Fluke could share the self same world with hyacinths and damsels and his Perch Prism s eyes with enough rings around them to lasso and strangle at birth any idea that he was under 50 Around the lake trees arose with a peculiar authority an one spinney was in an irritable state , another in a condition of suspended excitement while other trees were variously aloof, mournful, gesticulating, exultant and asleep The boys changed ammunition to paper pellets only after the THIRD death and a deal of confusion in the hiding of the bodies A cloud of starlings moved like a migraine across the upper air A symbol of something the significance of which had long been lost to the records Countless candles dribbled with hot wax, and their flames, like little flags, fluttered in the uncharted currents of air The wick of an enormous oil lamp was as wide as a sheep s tongue the long drawn hiss of reptilian rain In the snow, the terrain bulged with the submerged features of a landscape half remembered as empty as tongueless bells as a withered spinster might kiss a spaniel s nose Quotes from Titus AloneMy review HERE Peake s illustration of Muzzlehatch The very essence of his vocation was removedness He was a symbol He was the law Magistrate sham nobility of his countenance Old Crime a light to strangle infants by The merest wisp of a man his presence was a kind of subtraction He was nondescript to the point of embarrassment Scientist a man of the wilds Of the wilds within himself and the wilds without there was no beggar alive who could look so ragged and yet so like a king Muzzlehatch Within a span of Titus foot, a beetle minute and heraldic, reflected the moonbeams from its glossy back What lights had begun to appear were sucked in by the quenching effect of the darkness A flight of sunbeams, traversing the warm, dark air, forced a pool of light on the pillow The sun sank with a sob and darkness waded in What light there was seeped into the great glass buildings as though ashamed The old and the worn, who evolved out of the shades like beings spun from darkness his responses to her magnetism grew vaguer he longed to be alone again alone to wander listless through the sunbeams that he abhorred her brain seemed almost to add to his lust for her body He was no longer entangled in a maze of moods Titus Head after head in long lines, thick and multitudinous and cohesive as grains of honey coloured sugar, each grain a face a delirium of heads an endless profligacy I don t like this place one little bit My thighs are as wet as turbots a loquacious river A floating spy cam is a petty snooper, prying on man and child, sucking information as a bat sucks blood a voice of curds and whey Brief but unexpected sexual references scrotum tightening , his cock trembled like a harp string and when he first regains consciousness and sees Cheeta, his greeting is let me suck on your breasts, like little apples, and play upon your nipples with my tongue Cormorant fishing as in China they were riding on the wings of a clich From China Mieville s introduction to this edition With its first word the work declares itself, establishes its setting and has us abruptly there, in the castle and the stone There is no slow entry, no rabbit hole down which to fall, no backless wardrobe, no door in the wall To open the first book is not to enter but to be already in Mervyn Peake s astonishing creation So taken for granted, indeed, is this impossible place, that we commence with qualification Gormenghast, Peake starts, that is, the main massing of the original stone, as if, in response to that opening name, we had interrupted him with a request for clarification We did not say What is Gormenghast but Gormenghast Which bit It is a sly and brilliant move Asserting the specificity of a part, he better takes as given the whole of which, of course, we are in awe This faux matter of fact method makes Gormenghast, its Hall of Bright Carvings, its Tower of Flints, its roofscapes, ivy shaggy walls, its muddy environs and hellish kitchens, so muchpresent and real than if it had been breathlessly explained From this start, Peake acts as if the totality of his invented place could not be in dispute The dislocation and fascination we feel, the intoxication, is testimony to the success of his simple certainty Our wonder is not disbelief but belief, culture shock at this vast, strange place We submit to this reality that the book asserts even as it purports not to.It is in the names, above all, perhaps, that Peake s strategy of simultaneous familiarising and defamiliarising reaches its zenith Rottcodd, Muzzlehatch, Sourdust, Crabcalf, Gormenghast itself such names are so overburdened with semiotic freight, stagger under such a profusion of meanings, that they end up as opaque as if they had none Prunesquallor is a glorious and giddying synthesis, and one that sprays images but their portent remains unclear China Mieville on fantasy and Peake s relationship with it thanks to Traveller for this quotation Tolkien is the wen on the arse of fantasy literature His oeuvre is massive and contagious you can t ignore it, so don t even try The best you can do is consciously try to lance the boil And there s a lot to dislike his cod Wagnerian pomposity, his boys own adventure glorying in war, his small minded and reactionary love for hierarchical status quos, his belief in absolute morality that blurs moral and political complexity Tolkien s clich s elves n dwarfs n magic rings have spread like viruses He wrote that the function of fantasy was consolation , thereby making it an article of policy that a fantasy writer should mollycoddle the reader.That is a revolting idea, and one, thankfully, that plenty of fantasists have ignored From the Surrealists through the pulps via Mervyn Peake and Mikhael Bulgakov and Stefan Grabinski and Bruno Schulz and Michael Moorcock and M John Harrison and I could go on the best writers have used the fantastic aesthetic precisely to challenge, to alienate, to subvert and undermine expectations China Mieville The madness is illusory, and control never falters It is, if you like, a rich wine of fancy chilled by the intellect to just the right temperature There is no really close relative to it in all our prose literature It is uniquely brilliant, and we are right to call it a modern classic Anthony Burgess, in his 1988 introduction to Titus GroanAnd finally The Gormenghast page of the official Mervyn Peake site Peake Studies site Last read by me about a hundred years ago Would this favourite from my youthy youth stand up to mature scrutiny Short answer YES Gormenghast is still wonderful, grotesque, andthan a little outrageous I remembered its many logorrheic delights and here they were, intact spilth, rabous, fumid, lapsury, abactimal, and many other fulminant obscurities were all present and correct and spooled out in sentence upon long, involved sentence But it s not just the words, it s the order he p Last read by me about a hundred years ago Would this favourite from my youthy youth stand up to mature scrutiny Short answer YES Gormenghast is still wonderful, grotesque, andthan a little outrageous I remembered its many logorrheic delights and here they were, intact spilth, rabous, fumid, lapsury, abactimal, and many other fulminant obscurities were all present and correct and spooled out in sentence upon long, involved sentence But it s not just the words, it s the order he puts em in The reader must be prepared for paragraphs like this Drear ritual turned its wheel The ferment of the heart, within these walls, was mocked by every length of sleeping shadow The passions, no greater than candle flames, flickered in Time s yawn, for Gormenghast, huge and adumbrate, out crumbles all The summer was heavy with a kind of soft grey blue weight in the sky yet not in the sky, for it was as if there were no sky, but only air, an impalpable grey blue substance, drugged with the weight of its own heat and hue You should be warned that although there is a plot, don t read this for the story You will not be happy There s an actual fight at one exciting point, and it lasts for around 15 pages, because every single thrust and fall is ponderously described, every gout of blood becomes an elaborate three para event Gormenghast is like Edgar Allen Poe but with a very wicked sense of humour, a dash of PG Wodehouse even,than a few crumbs of Dickens of course, and umpteen gallons of Gothic sensibility sloshed in It s seriously unserious.As minutely imagined as the gigantic castle and its inhabitants are, yet still, theI thought about the lives here displayed, the less it all made sense why does no one have any kind of married life Why do the characters live in such solitude How does this vast castle pay for itself Where did Lord Groan s thousands of books come from Is this a Christian universe I spotted one single Christian reference but religion is strictly avoided even throughout such things as christenings and funerals But I guess it s better not to ask fantasy to behave like reality So I stopped being bothered by such stuff and let the monstrousness of Gormenghast drown me deliciously in its abactinal spilth what haunts the heart will, when it is found, leap foremost, blinding the eye and leaving the main of Life in darknessA beautiful example of the Fantasy genre done right Mervyn Peake built a realistic world, full of evil, gentle, quirky, fascinating, unforgettable characters The brightest of them all is Steerpike the protagonist in Titus Groan and Gormenghast A deliciously evil mastermind we love to hate view spoiler Also, the tragic character of Fuchsia will break yourwhat haunts the heart will, when it is found, leap foremost, blinding the eye and leaving the main of Life in darknessA beautiful example of the Fantasy genre done right Mervyn Peake built a realistic world, full of evil, gentle, quirky, fascinating, unforgettable characters The brightest of them all is Steerpike the protagonist in Titus Groan and Gormenghast A deliciously evil mastermind we love to hate view spoiler Also, the tragic character of Fuchsia will break your heart hide spoiler In my opinion, the third novel of the trilogy Titus Alone wasn t as interesting as its two predecessors, but overall, this is an iconic work in British Literature.The 2000 BBC adaptation, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Christopher Lee and Ian Richardson among others, combines the first two installments in a brilliant way It is highly recommendedIf ever he had harboured a conscience in his tough narrow breast he had by now dug out and flung away the awkward thing flung it so far away that were he ever to need it again he could never find it The world is divided in two parts the domain of ugliness and the realm of beauty, the morass of useless and stale traditions and the enigmatic and enticing life on the land outside And the lonely boy Titus Groan, the heir of the monstrously huge castle of Gormenghast, must grow up and fight the lethargic, deadly inertia and crush fatal cosmic evil surrounding him.And the language of the saga is a creation of an unadulterated wizardry It gave Mr Flay what he imagined must be pleasure He was di The world is divided in two parts the domain of ugliness and the realm of beauty, the morass of useless and stale traditions and the enigmatic and enticing life on the land outside And the lonely boy Titus Groan, the heir of the monstrously huge castle of Gormenghast, must grow up and fight the lethargic, deadly inertia and crush fatal cosmic evil surrounding him.And the language of the saga is a creation of an unadulterated wizardry It gave Mr Flay what he imagined must be pleasure He was discoveringandin this new and strange existence, this vastness so far removed from corridors and halls, burned libraries and humid kitchens, that gave rise in him to a new sensation, this interest in phenomena beyond ritual and obedience something which he hoped was not heretical in him the multiformity of the plants and the varying textures in the barks of trees, the varieties of fish and bird and stone It was not in his temperament to react excitedly to beauty, for, as such, it had never occurred to him It was not in him to think in terms His pleasure was of a dour and practical breed and yet, not altogether When a shaft of light fell across a dark area his eyes would turn to the sky to discover the rift through which the rays had broken Then they would return with a sense of accomplishment to the play of the beams.When we grow up we pass the point of no return so there is no way for us to come back to the serene and cozy world of our childhood The Gormenghast is an ultimate coming of age tale, a real Armageddon of good and evil and it is one of the best and most original books of the twentieth century If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Painting in Text The Gormenghast Trilogy by Marvin PeakeI consider it pointless to compare Tolkien and Peake you might as well argue whether Raymond Chandler is better than Ivy Compton Burnett I would only point out, since I believe no one has so far, that in Gormenghast, unlike Middle Earth, Sex exists I also think Peake fits into the Gothic tradition in literature it is surprising that a book containing no magic or mythologic If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Painting in Text The Gormenghast Trilogy by Marvin PeakeI consider it pointless to compare Tolkien and Peake you might as well argue whether Raymond Chandler is better than Ivy Compton Burnett I would only point out, since I believe no one has so far, that in Gormenghast, unlike Middle Earth, Sex exists I also think Peake fits into the Gothic tradition in literature it is surprising that a book containing no magic or mythological creatures or supernatural events is so reflexively categorized as fantasy , but perhaps, without that classification, one would have to consider it sui generis I agree too with the comment about Peake s writing being pictorial at times when reading Titus Groan or Gormenghast, it is like allowing ones eye to wander into a large detailed canvas by Bosch or Breughel, filled with grotesque and amusing details scattered throughout a fantastic landscape As it happened I read this in three separate volumes I wouldn t recommend going for a one volume edition unless you have very big hands But out of convenience I ll lump them all together in a single review Titus Groan is the first volume of Mervyn Peake s distinctive Gormenghast trilogy The first two volumes of which come across as being strongly inspired by Peake s childhood as a missionary s son in China while the third has the taste of post World War II Europe.The Earls of Groan rule Gorm As it happened I read this in three separate volumes I wouldn t recommend going for a one volume edition unless you have very big hands But out of convenience I ll lump them all together in a single review Titus Groan is the first volume of Mervyn Peake s distinctive Gormenghast trilogy The first two volumes of which come across as being strongly inspired by Peake s childhood as a missionary s son in China while the third has the taste of post World War II Europe.The Earls of Groan rule Gormenghast A great crazy twisted pile of rooms, wings, buildings and extensions that towers above a township, rather like a gothic Forbidden City built with unlimited acesss to scaffolding The Earls of Groan seem to be completely isolated from the wider world view spoiler in the second book there are some teachers who appear to have come from somewhere else, but I may be deceiving myself hide spoiler and live a life governed by strict ceremony Further they and their servants are largely cut off from the township and interaction between the two is to be limited to certain persons and ceremonial occasions.At the beginning of the story, a son and heir has just been born to the melancholy Earl of Groan and his robust but absent wife, the Lady of Groan, and the novel runs through the first year or so of Titus life ending in an important ceremony which is completed in an ill omened way.The strict hierarchies of the life of Gormenghast are transgressed by several characters While others accept or resent the dependence imposed on them The constraints take their psychic toil It is hard not to see this as a novel at least informed by the experience of colonialism, from the point of view of the colonisers, and the creation of hierarchies of culture and caste incomprehensible to those outside the system Indeed incomprehensible to all, a baroque exuberance created as an end in its self, even the ceremonial appears to be arbitrary, a later plot point suggests that the master of ceremonies can invent entirely new ceremonies and impose them upon the Earl Gormenghast is the sequel to Titus Groan, it isclearly a Bildungsroman covering Titus school years.The emphasis on bizarre characters, or their odd characteristics, is Dickensian The world of Gormenghast never made a great deal of sense to me where do all the teachers come from Where do the pupils come from in a society in which jobs and roles are inherited which leads me to wonder how they cope with population change particularly given the atmosphere of autumnal decay that permeates the first two books Which I suppose all serves to emphasis the missionary experience perhaps, these people coming from nowhere to do tasks that only have meaning for a peculiar group of people isolated from the population in which they live and increasingly isolated from the places that they came from Finally there is or was, a fourth book written by Peake s widow based on some of his notes has since appeared in print Titus Alone It is a book that is still growing on me The ending suggests a coming to terms with his childhood.It is a brief work in comparison with the two earlier volumes in the trilogy and seems very much a picture of of the immediate post World War II world The world of Gormenghast is as incomprehensible as the life in the colonies must have seemed in the Britain of the early 1950s Written in declining health, apparently Peake wrote the last of it sitting under his kitchen table.It would be hard for this series not to be the most fantastical mirror image of mid century Britain, written and illustrated by a leading draughtsman, bizarrely decadent and hauntingly memorable A doomed lord, an emergent hero, and a dazzling array of bizarre creatures inhabit the magical world of the Gormenghast novels which, along with Tolkien s Lord of the Rings, reign as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time At the center of it all is the seventy seventh Earl, Titus Groan, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom, unless the conniving Steerpike, who is determined to rise above his menial position and control the House of Groan, has his wayIn these extraordinary novels, Peake has created a world where all is like a dream lush, fantastical, and vivid Accompanying the text are Peake s own drawings, illustrating the whole assembly of strange and marvelous creatures that inhabit GormenghastAlso featuring Introductory essays by Anthony Burgess and Quentin CrispTwelve critical essays, curated by Peake scholar Peter G WinningtonFragment of the unpublished novel, Titus Awakes WARNING The posts below are purely fictional They never happened, and were not posted by real people Any similarities to anyone, including myself, are purely your imagination Even the posts posted by real people were not posted by real people Any similarities between this thread and reality are entirely coincidental But, that scary picture of the blond guy crying Oh, that s real That s so sad, and so real. The kingdom of Gormenghast, a kind of gothic medieval fantasy land, is like a giant institution in which everyone, including the ruling class suffers from a sense of oppression One senses Peake has often deployed his memories of public school for inspiration Every character is firmly glued to his or her duties There s little freedom of movement Only two characters actively rebel The malevolent and Machiavellian Steerpike and the young earl, Titus The first thing that got my attention was t The kingdom of Gormenghast, a kind of gothic medieval fantasy land, is like a giant institution in which everyone, including the ruling class suffers from a sense of oppression One senses Peake has often deployed his memories of public school for inspiration Every character is firmly glued to his or her duties There s little freedom of movement Only two characters actively rebel The malevolent and Machiavellian Steerpike and the young earl, Titus The first thing that got my attention was the quality of writing Peake is a brilliant descriptive writer, especially impressive when it comes to the natural world No surprise he was also an artist The plot takes a while to surface as he provides us with a large cast of characters, all as humorously madcap as the others Think early Evelyn Waugh when he was continually making fun of the teaching profession So, the first two books, extending to 800 odd pages are fabulous Then, apparently, the dementia that would kill Peake began to surface and the third book, only 200 odd pages, suffers as a result The third part is sketchy, lacking in design and artistry, rambling and repetitive I found it difficult to read It s a shame he didn t end it after book two.A unique feature of this book is that it contains sketches by the author of many of his characters I have to say I didn t quite see eye to eye with this feature Picturing characters myself is for me an important part of reading It felt a bit too controlling on the part of the author to deny me this bit of imaginative freedom Rotting shadows and incongruous beams of light are what I remember most from this novel, if you can call it that Incarnation would likely beaccurate Characters are merely spectres generated by the stones of Gormenghast Castle The fragile mind of the author had descended just far enough to see the music in the movements of the grotesque pieces we cannot bring ourselves to look upon Months after reading this, I m still not entirely sure what it is that I took away from Gormenghast Th Rotting shadows and incongruous beams of light are what I remember most from this novel, if you can call it that Incarnation would likely beaccurate Characters are merely spectres generated by the stones of Gormenghast Castle The fragile mind of the author had descended just far enough to see the music in the movements of the grotesque pieces we cannot bring ourselves to look upon Months after reading this, I m still not entirely sure what it is that I took away from Gormenghast The straight answer has to do with what happens when we let the past have absolute rule over the present and the future It ties into the museum cities of Europe, the homesteads of the opening American West It gives us the the various options of what humans can become when they are not allowed to become themselves