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The Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan /…

The Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone) (original 1967; edition 1995)

by Mervyn Peake, Anthony Burgess (Introduction), Quentin Crisp (Introduction)

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1,482235,016 (4.04)1 / 72
Title:The Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone)
Authors:Mervyn Peake
Other authors:Anthony Burgess (Introduction), Quentin Crisp (Introduction)
Info:Overlook Press (1995), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 1168 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake (1967)


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English (22)  French (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I read the first 2 of these books, and really didn't like them. They did remind me of Dickens a lot - and I'm not a big fan of Dickens either, so that might explain it! All the characters were grotesque caricatures, and the general mood was claustrophobic, banal and depressing. I'd expected to really love these books, from what I'd heard about them - but I was disappointed. Maybe it was just my state of mind at the time - I don't know.

I did really love the concept of the endless castle - but the way it was written was just extremely oppressive.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Outstanding read! ( )
  sundowneruk | Feb 2, 2016 |
It seems churlish to fault the Gormenghast trilogy as flawless; that it isn’t is only partially the author’s fault. The first two books are extraordinary, a triumph of atmosphere and sense of place. Peake captures the claustrophobia of Gormenghast, a place of inertia hidebound by tradition and archaic rules populated almost solely by grotesques. Every character, every action is saturated in symbolism, Peake’s writing is often so dense in conveying what’s going on it approaches poetry – given how often he describes colour and texture, you can see how strongly his skills as an artist influence his prose. This means that the pacing of events is often glacial, despite the timescale covered, so those first two books are best savoured rather than zoomed through.

Much as the third book makes thematic sense – Titus going out into the big wide world and discovering he’s not as special as he thinks – it comes across as an appendage to those first two books, lacking a sense of place or the languidly explored grotesque characters of the first two volumes. It also lacks the backbone, the compelling story that Steerpike’s ambitious treachery gives the previous volumes. It’s bitty and episodic, a sketch as opposed to the fully realised art that preceded it. It doesn’t help that Titus is such an unsympathetic lead character, though it could be argued that it’s not an inaccurate portrayal of a youthful man, particularly one with Titus’ strange upbringing. But the bitty, episodic nature of the narrative feels a touch unsatisfying compared to what’s gone before. Well worth reading for the glorious mannered madness of the first two volumes though. ( )
  JonArnold | Apr 13, 2014 |
This is an omnibus of of the three Titus novels: Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone. Individual reviews of the three can be found here:

Titus Groan


Titus Alone
  HanJie | Jan 1, 2014 |
Fantasy fiction. I'd tried to read the Gormenghast books a few times, but only succeeded after watching the excellent BBC series. Good books, nonetheless. The last book, Titus Alone was my least favourite. ( )
  questbird | Oct 7, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peake, Mervynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crisp, QuentinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hellar, JulekCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miéville, ChinaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dost thou love picking meat? Or would'st thou see/A man in the clouds, and have him speak to thee?
-- Bunyan
For Maeve
First words
Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its outer walls.
Introduction by Quentin Crisp:  Style is a terrible thing to happen to anybody.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Introduction by Quentin Crisp (p. ix),
Introduction by Anthony Burgess (p. 1),
Titus Groan (p.7),
Gormenghast (p. 397),
Titus Alone (p. 809),
Critical Assessments (p.1025) includes:
"The critical reception of Mervyn Peake's Titus Books" by G. Peter Winnington;
"Memories of Mervyn Peake" by Louise Collis;
"The Gutters of Gormenghast" by Hugh Brogan;
"Situating Gormenghast" by Ronald Binns;
"'The Passions in their Clay': Mervyn Peake's Titus Stories" by Joseph L. Sanders;
"Titus and the Thing in Gormenghast" by Christiano Rafanelli;
"Fuschia and Steerpike: Mood and Form" by G. Peter Winnington;
"Gormenghast: Psychology of the Bildungsroman" by Bruce Hunt;
"Gormenghast: Fairytale gone wrong" by Margaret Ochocki;
"The Cry of a Fighting Cock: Notes on Steerpike and Ritual in Gormenghast" by Ann Yeoman;
"Beowulf to Kafka: Mervyn Peake's Titus Alone" by Colin Greenland;
"A Critical Conclusion: The End of Titus Alone" by Laurence Bristow-Smith;
"A Barrier of Foolery? The Depiction of Women in Titus Alone" by Tanya Gardiner-Scott
Titus Awakes (p. 1165)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0879516283, Paperback)

Mervyn Peake's gothic masterpiece, the Gormenghast trilogy, begins with the superlative Titus Groan, a darkly humorous, stunningly complex tale of the first two years in the life of the heir to an ancient, rambling castle. The trilogy continues with the novels Gormenghast and Titus Alone, and all three books are bound together in this single-volume edition.

The Gormenghast royal family, the castle's decidedly eccentric staff, and the peasant artisans living around the dreary, crumbling structure make up the cast of characters in these engrossing stories. Peake's command of language and unique style set the tone and shape of an intricate, slow-moving world of ritual and stasis:

"The walls of the vast room which were streaming with calid moisture, were built with gray slabs of stone and were the personal concern of a company of eighteen men known as the 'Grey Scrubbers'.... On every day of the year from three hours before daybreak until about eleven o'clock, when the scaffolding and ladders became a hindrance to the cooks, the Grey Scrubbers fulfilled their hereditary calling."

Peake has been compared to Dickens, Tolkien, and Peacock, but the Gormenghast trilogy is truly unique. Unforgettable characters with names like Steerpike and Prunesquallor make their way through an architecturally stifling world, with lots of dark corners around to dampen any whimsy that might arise. This true classic is a feast of words unlike anything else in the world of fantasy. Those who explore Gormenghast castle will be richly rewarded. --Therese Littleton

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:24 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Contents: Titus Groan - Gormenghast - Titus alone

(summary from another edition)

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