Monday, July 23, 2012

The Gormenghast Trilogy - Mervyn Peake

Mervyn Peake (1911-1968)

So after trying to read Clarissa for a million years, I decided for now to throw in the towel and turn to a book that seemed like it might have a plot. Plots these days are a little much to hope for I think.

The Gormenghast trilogy is a set of fantasy novels that revolve around a remote and reclusive earldom filled with bazaar characters and outrageous happenings. The basic plot of the three books is the growth and development of Titus Groan, the 77th Earl and heir to the Gormenghast world. He is not thrilled by the prospect of living out his life day by day through the archaic rituals that have come to define Gormenghast. The rituals proceed life and Titus feels trapped and chained to a world that seems to have nothing to offer beyond endless stone corridors that open into decrepit rooms devoid of life, adventure and meaning. He envies the free and slowly plots his escape...only to realize that for him the only real option is Gormenghast.

The plot rather than linear, swirls around the many characters in almost a Dickinson sort of way, they make their entrances and exits with the plot occasionally surfacing from the shadows of their interactions.

Withdrawn and ruinous it broods in umbra: the immemorial masonry: the towers, the tracks. Is all corroding? No. Through an avenue of spires a zephyr floats; a bird whistles; a freshet bears away from a choked river. Deep in a fist of stone a doll's hand wriggle, ward rebellious on the frozen palm. A shadow shifts its length. A spider stirs....and darkness between the characters.

- Gormenghast 

He only knows that he has left behind him, on the far side of the skyline, something inordinate; something brutal; something tender; something half real; something half dream; his half heart; half of himself....

- Titus Alone

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