The Great Gormenghast Read discussion

Titus Alone > The Black House (Chapters 92-122)

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message 1: by Metaphorosis (new)

Metaphorosis (metaphorosisreviews) | 47 comments In the scenes at the Black House, Peake makes a valiant effort to justify the hodge-podge that is the rest of the book. His handling of the Gormenghast recreation is well done, all the more because Titus sees through it. But in the end, there’s just not enough in it to make everything else work. The reappearance of the three weird bodyguards gives them purpose, but doesn’t explain their conviction, and there’s little to link them with other famous trios – Norns, Witches, etc. – so they’re more distractive than meaningful. The confrontation between Muzzlehatch and the Helmeteers is better, but while it gives Muzzlehatch a strong ending, it does little to explain the Helmeteers.

Juno and Anchor (whose true identity is never revealed) appear as makeshift saviors, but are almost immediately dropped as Titus jumps out of their aircar. They function almost entirely as a convenient plot mechanism rather than as true characters, which seems unfair to Juno’s devotion, and short shrift for Anchor’s mystery.

More to the point, Titus (who seems to have parachuting downloaded direct to his brain) is magically returned to Gormenghast, the location for which he has been consciously and unconsciously searching throughout the book. And immediately turns around and goes somewhere else. It’s a move that undermines the entirety of what has gone before, so that rather than a rather vague closing to Titus’ yearnings, Peake is saying “Yeah, forget about all that and let’s start over again.” Of all the book’s flaws, this is the simplest and most damaging, leaving me very much wondering why I read the book at all.

message 2: by Cecily, Gormenghast Librarian (new)

Cecily | 166 comments I'm assuming you know how ill Peake was when he wrote this? It is really an unfinished work, and the early editions were apparently even more muddled than what is currently published.

message 3: by Metaphorosis (last edited Nov 24, 2013 10:40PM) (new)

Metaphorosis (metaphorosisreviews) | 47 comments I learned about Peake's illness from your comments on previous books, and I'm taking that into account. I see that as explaining some things (the blunt, even crass, treatment of sex at the first party; the fractured, episodic nature of the story; etc.). What's disappointing to me is that he really tried to pull it all together here, and I've have forgiven a lot if he hadn't had Titus reach and immediately turn away from Gormenghast. I don't see the point.

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