How is that I had never heard of this novel until Jackie mentioned hosting a read-along of it to start in June? A novel of which C.S. Lewis wrote, ” (Peake’s books) are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience.”
After a sentence like that, there’s hardly a need for me to write of Peake’s first book, but I shall try. Titus Groan. At first, I was thinking of “groan” as a verb. “And in that case,” I thought, “shouldn’t it be Titus Groans?” But, he is “the Future of the Blood line. A tiny weight that was Gormenghast, a Groan of the strict lineage – Titus, the Seventy-Seventh.”
If you think that his name is strange, consider these: Lord Sepulchrave, the Countess Gertrude (his wife), Fuchsia (their eldest child), Doctor Prunesquallor, Mr Rottcodd, Flay, Swelter, Nannie Slagg, Steerpike and Sourdust. Such wonderful characters, created by Mervyn Peake, to inhabit this strange land of his where there are those who live within, the “Castles”, and those who do not, the “Dwellers”.
I cannot conceive what will come next, as the foundation has been laid for Titus, the heir apparent, to show us of which he’s made. For Steerpike, the seventeen year old boy apprentice who at the close of this section has just escaped from the room in which the cook, Swelter, had locked him. For Fuchsia, who cannot bear that she now has a little brother, Titus, with strange violet eyes. It is a story beyond my wildest imaginings, unique and spectacular in scope.
So far, I like Fuchsia the best. The daughter with a mane of black, curly hair who likes certain pictures more than others. “What Fuchsia wanted from a picture was something unexpected. It was as though she enjoyed the artist telling her something quite fresh and new. Something she had never thought of before.”
Just as Mervyn Peake is telling us in his wonderfully fabricated book.