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Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

Gormenghast (1950)

by Mervyn Peake, John Constable

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Gormenghast (2)

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2,147334,535 (4.31)1 / 323

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English (31)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
As I watched the protagonist ride off into the sunset at the close of the second part of Peake’s vastly underrated trilogy, I couldn’t help but think that he’d mixed up the titles of the first two installments. This novel, not the first, is about Titus Groan whereas the first novel, not this one, is about Gormenghast.

But that is a negligible criticism for two works of writing which have been all but forgotten in the half century since they were written. A lot of what I wrote for Titus Groan applies yet again, and more so: the prose perfectly matches the world Peake has created; the characters only deepen their Dickensian charm; Steerpike’s scheming reaches its climax; and the best way to approach it all is to lie back and drift in the stream.

At times, I have to say, I wondered if Peake was a bit too ponderous. Irma Prunesquallor’s love life seems a bit too tangential to hold my attention for as long as was required. But having got through that, and in the latter third of this volume, the pace quickens as political currents clash.

Titus Groan’s growing pains form an important part of the storyline, hence my thoughts that the novel’s name is misleading. As he grows more aware that he is different from those around him, his desire for freedom creates a tension between his duty and his yearnings. This adds yet another layer of tension to the latter half of the book which keeps the pages turning.

If you haven’t read any of Peake’s work at all, I do suggest you start at the beginning and read Titus Groan. Starting with Gormenghast would be a mistake as there’s a lot you won’t realise the significance of without having read the first installment.

I suppose the ultimate test of the first two novels is whether you actually finish the trilogy and read the third book, Titus Alone. I’m in no hurry, but if I do come across a secondhand copy one day, I’ll probably buy it just to finish off the series and at least doff my hat to Mervyn Peake’s memory. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jul 21, 2018 |
Fantasy (vol 2 in series)
1 vote | stevholt | Nov 19, 2017 |
Absolutely loved it! ( )
  Fergster73 | Aug 15, 2017 |
Loved it when I read it, but probably wouldn't now. ( )
  Karin7 | Jan 20, 2016 |
256) Gormenghast

The second novel in Melvyn Peakes trilogy picks up about 7 years after the end of Titus Groan.

Titus is now 8 and the focus of the book shifts to a new set of characters the tutors, the men (and they are exclusively men) tasked with the job of educating the young residence of Gormenghast. The old characters are still covered as well with old favourites Doctor and Irma Prunescullor, the evil Steerpike and Fuschia.

While there are some amusing sequences in this book it is a lot darker than the first book.

There is not a lot more I can say without spoilers except that once again the role of Titus Groan is pretty marginal (although he appears a lot more than in the first book) compared with the other characters. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (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 (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peake, Mervynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Constable, Johnmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Harding, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pepper, RobertCover artistsecondary 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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345730089, Paperback)

This is the first printing of the "Ballantine illustrated, revised edition," 1968. Includes line drawings by the author (who was himself a highly-regarded illustrator).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Titus Groan is seven. Heir to the crumbling castle, to a cobwebbed kingdom, he is also the inheritor of the evil now spreading through Gormenghast. Steerpike, who began his climb across the roofs when Titus was born, is now ascending the spiral staircase to the heart of the castle, and in his wake lie imprisonment, manipulation and murder.… (more)

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