Beginning Titus Groan

Sunday January 21, 2007 in books read 2007 | mervyn peake

Well I’ve started Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake. I’m excited by the fact that I really know next to nothing about this book, or the rest of the Gormenghast trilogy. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m loving it already. In my edition’s introduction, Anthony Burgess describes the writing style as harking back rather than being progressive, and if I understand what he’s getting at I would liken Peake’s style to Dickens. He’s certainly one for describing grotesque and eccentric characters, and Lady Groan comes across as a distant relation of Miss Havisham:

She was propped against several pillows and a black shawl was draped around her shoulders. Her hair, a very dark red colour of great lustre, appeared to have been left suddenly while being woven into a knotted structure on the top of her head. Thick coils fell about her shoulders, or clustered upon the pillows like burning snakes.

And in the context of the weird castle of Groan, she really doesn’t appear strange at all…

Did you ever see the BBC series about it? That actually put me off a bit and although I have the books am yet to read them.

simon    Wednesday January 24, 2007   

You know, it put me off as well – and that was 6/7 years ago? It’s taken me that long to want to read the books, but I’m glad I’ve finally got there.

The Book Tower    Thursday January 25, 2007   

I loved the Gormenghast trilogy – devoured it in the 1970s. I remember several occasions, in bringing up three kids, quoting Titus’s mother: “Take Titus away and bring him to me when he is six.”
And Peake had such a brilliant and original turn of phrase. I can’t remember which character he was describing, but he said this poor chap was so dull-witted that ‘if he had an idea his brain would haemorrhage’. I’ve known a few people like that, I can tell you.

Lesley    Friday October 26, 2007   

That made me laugh. Poor Titus – I often think he would have been better off staying away.

The Book Tower    Friday October 26, 2007   

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