Mervyn Peake's centennial — new illustrated Gormenghast, long-lost sequel

Shared by Mystech

I have to confessed I only partially read the first novel, but I did watch the the excellent BBC mini-series.

Zack sez, “Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of GORMENGHAST author Mervyn Peake — not to mention the new illustrated edition of his work and the publication of the long-lost final volume in the series, TITUS AWAKES — The Guardian has a special tribute with essays by the likes of Michael Moorcock and China Mieville. The pieces range from examinations of the themes and ideas in Peake’s work to personal reminiscences about the author and how his work was rediscovered in the last years of his life.”

Gormenghast by China Miéville

With its first word the work declares itself, establishes its setting and has us abruptly there, in the castle and the stone. There is no slow entry, no rabbit-hole down which to fall, no backless wardrobe, no door in the wall. To open the first book is not to enter but to be already in Mervyn Peake’s astonishing creation. So taken for granted, indeed, is this impossible place, that we commence with qualification. “Gormenghast,” Peake starts, “that is, the main massing of the original stone,” as if, in response to that opening name, we had interrupted him with a request for clarification. We did not say “What is Gormenghast?” but “Gormenghast? Which bit?”

It is a sly and brilliant move. Asserting the specificity of a part, he better takes as given the whole – of which, of course, we are in awe. This faux matter-of-fact method makes Gormenghast, its Hall of Bright Carvings, its Tower of Flints, its roofscapes, ivy-shaggy walls, its muddy environs and hellish kitchens, so much more present and real than if it had been breathlessly explained. From this start, Peake acts as if the totality of his invented place could not be in dispute. The dislocation and fascination we feel, the intoxication, is testimony to the success of his simple certainty. Our wonder is not disbelief but belief, culture-shock at this vast, strange place. We submit to this reality that the book asserts even as it purports not to.

A celebration of the writing and art of Mervyn Peake

(Thanks, Zack)

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