The Gormenghast Novels (Gormenghast, #1-3) The Gormenghast Novels question

The Gormenghast Novels: Worth the Time?
Jeff Minerd Jeff Oct 03, 2016 08:19AM
The Gormenghast Novels
These novels are noted for being fantasy stories without magic in them, which interested me. I started reading the first one, Titus Groan. It's cleverly written, but the pace of the book is so PONDEROUS. Time seems to have slowed to a crawl in the world of the story. Most of the characters are sad and listless. Very little is happening, and what does happen happens SLOWLY. So I'm wondering, is this book worth plodding through? Is there a payoff at the end? Do things perk up at all? I'd welcome thoughts from anyone who has read the book!

For the right kind of reader, this book is a masterpiece; but the wrong kind of reader will obviously hate it.

I enjoy gothic horror novels and atmospheric fantasy, so Titus Groan and Gormenghast were both five star reads for me. They were the antitheses of a certain type of popular modern fantasy with all of the Mary Sue characters, non-stop spastic action scenes and formulaic plots.

This is slow and ponderous stuff, best read at a slow rate, with plenty of time in between to ponder on the most recent events. You might want to relieve the heaviness of this book by simultaneously reading something fast and easily consumed.

Jeff Minerd Thanks, this is a great insight.
Feb 22, 2019 05:54AM · flag

Yes. The first two novels together form a very satisfying story. They were written in the forties, so it's older language and pacing. It was the fashion at the time, before our society became hinged on instantaneous gratification and limited attention spans.
I would recommend you ignore Titus Alone though. Peake wrote it when he was very ill and it's kind of apocryphal and unfocused. Also really unnecessary.

The slowness is part of the appeal, it's like the weight of the castle is weighing the story down. I'd persist.

Jacob (last edited Feb 22, 2019 06:32AM ) Nov 01, 2018 01:30AM   0 votes
I plodded through these three books. It was in a trilogy - one cover edition, and it was terrible to go through it. The language was much too poetic for me. Indeed very slow reading, but the story itself was absurd and creepy, and although very depressing, still nice to have read. However, I will not read it again. I threw our copy in the paper recycle box, for after my wife had read it and me too, it was not in a good state anymore. Obviously printed and bound for one time reading only :)

I enjoyed them immensely. Wonderful sense of mood and atmosphere, and I'd echo Adam's point about the slowness being part of the appeal--for me anyway.

The novels are deliberately paced and as much I enjoyed them, I did find them dragging at times, but ultimately redeemed.

Titus Alone, I read, was compiled and edited by his wife when he was ill. It's a strange novel, especially as it jarringly moves from the surreal fantasy of the first two novels to a more science fiction feel.

There was a BBC Gormenghast miniseries starring Christopher Lee that came out in the early 2000's. I haven't seen but heard its good.

Simple answer, no. It's great literature, but not worth the slog. We only have so many hours on this mortal coil, and you have better choices.

Jeff Minerd Thanks!
Feb 22, 2019 05:53AM · flag

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