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Gormenghast (1950)

by Mervyn Peake, John Constable

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Gormenghast (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,316384,698 (4.3)1 / 340
A doomed lord, an emergent hero, and an array of bizarre creatures haunt the world of the Gormenghast trilogy, which reigns as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of it all is Titus Groan, the seventy-seventh Earl, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom. In this second volume, Titus comes of age within the walls of Gormenghast Castle and discovers various family intrigues. Having been ?exiled? to grow up with the common children until the age of fifteen, Titus has discovered secret hiding places in the castle from where he can watch and learn unobserved. Disconnected from his future responsibilities, Titus drifts back and forth between the complicated social world he will grow up to govern and a world of fantasy and daydream.… (more)
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English (36)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Merciless scheming
all undone by one harsh word
dead in the water. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
This classic fantasy still feels almost like allegory and real history wrapped around some of the most beautiful prose in literature.

Seriously. The prose is really fantastic. The names of things are both evocative and as predictive as shadows upon the wall: outlines and no substance.

The same is not true for the characters or the story itself. Titus has many mini-adventures from his childhood through his young adulthood, culminating in his ever-present desire to free himself of his home's odd traditions, the duties that will befall him, or even just the shadow of the antagonist that caused so much ruin in the first book. Titus grows up, and this novel is not just a simplified coming of age story. It's as complicated and real life, as full and ripe as all the greatest stories ever told, and it ends with great and satisfying heroism that is turned sour mainly because it only entrenches Titus in the very things he'd spent all his life trying to escape.

I feel for him. I really do.

There's so much tragedy in Gormenghast, and yet the whole land and the castle feels like a character unto itself, gloriously drawn and full of personality.

Anyone could read this without knowing anything about fantasy at all. It kinda transcends genres, turning into something closer to magical realism in traditional fiction despite the fact that it came out long before the term was even coined.

Truly, it isn't a book that should be missed if you're a fan of good literature. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
What makes the Gormenghast trilogy so interesting is that the life of its central character, Titus Groan, is far and away the least compelling aspect of the narrative. Were Mervyn Peake to focus wholly on Titus, he'd have written a book about a kid who feels restricted by responsibility and wants to be free of the burdens placed upon him by his heritage, a regular old story that we've heard before. What makes Gormenghast kick isn't what Titus is feeling but rather where he's feeling it. His struggles occur within the prodigious and endlessly complex Gormenghast castle, a place you could spend a lifetime exploring and never fully understand.

I rarely am interested in the setting of any particular novel. I care much more about the characters and how they think and act rather than where they might happen to be standing. But Gormenghast castle is an exception for me, because its bizarre grandeur is crucial to and inseparable from the people that reside within it. Only Gormenghast could withstand the physically imposing Countess Groan and her loyal menagerie. Only Gormenghast has the space to hold all of Fucshia's dreams and Steerpike's schemes. It's a structure that takes its outlandish personalities and gives free reign to their eccentricities, and most importantly, it's a really fun place to read about.

There are a few minor differences between this volume and its predecessor (Titus Groan). My favorite of these is the introduction of Gormenghast's teaching staff. They provide an abundance of levity in what becomes at times a fairly grim story. Peake seems to have a lot of fun naming all his characters, but Opus Fluke is the best of the bunch. I want to be named Opus Fluke.

I'm not quite sure when I'll read the third book in the trilogy. While Peake is a brilliant writer, I'm not too excited that in the divorce between Titus and Gormenghast, Peake decided to follow Titus. If I have a choice between reading about Titus crankily shirking responsibilities or Opus Fluke getting a gallon of red dye dumped down his throat for laughing too hard, I know which way I lean. ( )
1 vote bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
Titus grows up and faces Steerpike. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
Best of the trilogy I felt ( )
  Tchipakkan | Dec 26, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Reading this at the age of 13, I understood that fantasy, the place I was looking for, is not to be found in dragons, ghosts, or magic wands. It resides in language. Fantasy is death by owls. It’s mourning through gesture. It’s music, incantation in half-light. An inverted heart.

For years after reading Gormenghast, I didn’t read genre fantasy. Later, I came back to it. Now, I read eclectically and with confidence, because I know what I want.
added by elenchus | editlithub.com, Sofia Samatar (Mar 29, 2016)
 

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peake, Mervynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Constable, Johnmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Charpentier, AnnetteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harding, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ohlmarks, ÅkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pepper, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrai, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, TadIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Titus is seven. His confines, Gormenghast. Suckled on shadows; weaned, as it were, on webs of ritual: for his ears, echoes, for his eyes, a labyrinth of stone: and yet within his body something other -- other than this umbrageous legacy. For first and ever foremost he is child.
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A doomed lord, an emergent hero, and an array of bizarre creatures haunt the world of the Gormenghast trilogy, which reigns as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of it all is Titus Groan, the seventy-seventh Earl, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom. In this second volume, Titus comes of age within the walls of Gormenghast Castle and discovers various family intrigues. Having been ?exiled? to grow up with the common children until the age of fifteen, Titus has discovered secret hiding places in the castle from where he can watch and learn unobserved. Disconnected from his future responsibilities, Titus drifts back and forth between the complicated social world he will grow up to govern and a world of fantasy and daydream.

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