Bill Kerwin's Reviews > Gormenghast

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
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May 04, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, gothic
Read from May 04 to 19, 2012 , read count: 1


I like Titus Groan very much, but I like Gormenghast more.

The visual set pieces are equally vivid, but the style seems less labored, more fluid--less like cubist painting and more like a movie photographed by a cinematographer with a unique and eccentric palette. At first I thought this was principally due to Peake's maturing style--and I still believe that this is an important factor--but I have also come to understand that the growing ease in style, the flow of the narrative, has changed because Gormenghast, and Titus too, have changed.

This place and this prince, both circumscribed and determined by tradition, now live in an unstable world undermined by crime and flood. The earl has entered into the full freedom of young manhood, conscious of the confines of tradition but no longer bound by its restrictions.

I look forward with delight to the last volume of the series.
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01/30/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Coyle (new)

Coyle Without giving any spoilers, do keep in mind that the last volume is just a draft...


Bill  Kerwin I did know that it was never intended to be a merely trilogy, and I noticed that "Titus Alone" was quite a bit shorter than the other two, but I hadn't heart the "just a draft" part. Thanks for the warning. I won't get my hopes up and will endeavor not to judge it too harshly.


Cecily Re "conscious of the confines of tradition but no longer bound by its restrictions", which in some ways ought to make him an ally of Steerpike?!


(PS: Titus is an Earl, not a Prince or King.)


Bill  Kerwin Your Steerpike comment is very interesting Yes, there are parallels. But Steerpike is a sociopath and Titus isn't

Thanks for catching my "king" slip. Gormenghast is such a world unto itself that I always think of it as a kingdom. I'm going to keep the "prince" reference, though, because my usage fits the old feudal meaning of the word and--besides--I like the alliteration.


Cecily Bill wrote: "Steerpike is a sociopath and Titus isn't."

Absolutely.

Bill wrote: "Gormenghast is such a world unto itself that I always think of it as a kingdom."

Entirely understandable.

Bill wrote: "I'm going to keep the "prince" reference, though, because my usage fits the old feudal meaning of the word and--besides--I like the alliteration."

Good point (I'm fond of alliteration as well).


message 6: by Estott (new)

Estott The section concerning Irma Prunesqualor's party is one of the finest comic set pieces in english literature. "Bosoms are what you make of them, and I've made one!"


Cecily I'm glad you say "I look forward with delight to the last volume of the series." But be prepared for something VERY different in style, setting, plot, and every conceivable way.


message 8: by Cecily (last edited Sep 08, 2015 10:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cecily Estott wrote: "The section concerning Irma Prunesqualor's party is one of the finest comic set pieces in english literature. "Bosoms are what you make of them, and I've made one!""

Agreed. But some of the school scenes are pretty funny too (“the boys changed ammunition to paper pellets only after the THIRD death" and “a deal of confusion in the hiding of the bodies”!).


message 9: by Estott (new)

Estott Oh yes- this volume has some delights, amongst them the names of the masters: Perch-Prism, Flannelcat. The observation that the late Headmaster looked more alive in death than he ever had in life, and "Cane Slypate" scrawled on the globe.


message 10: by Neale (last edited Sep 08, 2015 08:14PM) (new)

Neale I agree – having gloriously laboured through ‘Titus Groan’, with equal amounts of wonderment and bafflement, coming to ‘Gormenghast’ is a bit like coming out into open country and galloping. Peake has created his world and now revels in it, even to the point of overegging the pudding a bit at times – but that is all part of the fun. I think this must be an old review, Bill – the ‘delight’ you were anticipating with ‘Titus Alone’ must have turned into a somewhat more modified rapture, since...


message 11: by Bill (last edited Sep 09, 2015 03:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill  Kerwin Neale wrote: "I think this must be an old review, Bill – the ‘delight’ you were anticipating with ‘Titus Alone’ must have turned into a somewhat more modified rapture, since... "

Correct. I wrote my earliest version of the review in May of 2012. I read the books in order, and I was let down a bit when I came to "Titus Alone". You can check out my review, but basically I thought that, although its style was deliberately streamlined a bit to accommodate the modern atmosphere, that basically it was a grand conception which Peake's declining health had prevented him from realizing. Still, it is quite good in parts and better than nothing.


Conor This is a wonderful review. It explains without spoiling, and warns of depth and difference in a way that serves to whet the appetite of those looking for something else in a genre that is still often considered pulpy.


message 13: by William (new)

William I only know this through the BBC Christmas production, but it was wonderful stuff.


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