The Gormenghast Novels

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cover from The Gormenghast NovelsThere are few things more hateful than paying 30 bucks for a paperback book, especially when you THOUGHT you were buying a beautiful sleek hardcover. Some of these things would include genocide, lack of empathy, hate, etc. Buying The Gormenghast Novels in this unwieldy, poorly-bound edition may have been the best choice, however, as the volume contains critical essays and information on the author, Mervyn Peake, a writer, poet, and illustrator whose reputation has risen considerably since his death in 1968.

The trilogy, along with the novella Boy In Darkness, tell the story of Titus Groan, the 77th Earl of Groan, as he grows to manhood in the strange and isolated world of Gormenghast Castle. A lot of thoughtful people hate these novels for their plodding pace and intensely layered descriptive passages. Personally I'm finding myself enjoying them, 300 pages into the first novel, Titus Groan. Why? I think it's because Peake was successful in creating a compellingly real world for his readers. Dickensian characters, violent plots, a buttload of obsessive-compulsive behaviors, these novels will please if given a chance. Definitely a unique creation that has defied all attempts at classification, though the word "Gothic" has often been applied.


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