The Great Gormenghast Read discussion

Titus Alone > Prison and escape (Chapters 34-48)

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message 1: by Metaphorosis (new)

Metaphorosis (metaphorosisreviews) | 47 comments As with so much of the rest of the book, the prison scene was a wasted opportunity. Peake goes to quite some effort to create an intriguing environment and character in Old Crime. He throws in pathos as the old man slides into the darkness saying “grow old with me.” And then it’s on to court. (view spoiler)

The Court itself is a blend of Dickens and Kafka – farcical, confusing, and meaningless all at once. It’s funny, but it doesn’t add up to much. Interestingly, we do get an opportunity to see things from Muzzlehatch’s perspective, but it’s not very informative. We’re either seeing only the shallowest level of a deep pool, or there just isn’t as much to Muzzlehatch as I’d like there to be – as I think there needs to be.

For once, though, Muzzlehatch doesn’t save Titus. Juno does, and they immediately become lovers, in a relationship that’s all form and no substance. That’s almost impossible to avoid, because while Juno appears to have stereotypically maternal instincts and emotion, it’s becoming apparent that Titus is all surface. Muzzlehatch, in contrast, finally shows some of the deep emotion that lurks within him, and looks down on Titus and Juno in one of the few really poignant moments of the book. Disappointingly, it doesn’t change much of anything.

Titus flees again. Peake tells us directly that Titus is “part of some thing bigger than himself… a chip of stone” with no mountain source – all clearly meant to be references to Gormenghast, and Titus’ ties to it. (view spoiler) However, he does nothing with the knowledge, only running to Muzzlehatch to be saved again through a trip to the underworld.

message 2: by Cecily, Gormenghast Librarian (new)

Cecily | 166 comments I agree about the echoes of Dickens and Kafka. What's a little odd is that Peake was well-known as a fan of Dickens (Bleak House was a favourite, and he did wonderful illustrations for it), but I've never read anything about whether he had much experience of or fondness for Kafka.

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