Gormenghast Read-Along: Week Three on Titus Groan

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“The loss of his library had been a blow so pulverizing that he had not yet begun to suffer the torment that was later to come to him. He was still dazed and bewildered, but he sensed instinctively that his only hope lay in turning his mind as often as possible from the tragedy and in applying himself unstintingly to the routine of the day. As the weeks passed by, however, he found it more and more difficult to keep the horror of that night from his mind. Books which he loved not only for their burden, but intrinsically, for varying qualities of paper and print, kept reminding him that they were no longer to be fingered and read. Not only were the books lost and the thoughts in the books, but what was to him, perhaps, the most searching loss of all, the hours of rumination which lifted him above himself and bore him upon their muffled and enormous wings. Not a day passed but he was reminded of some single volume, or of a series of works, whose very positions on the walls so clearly indented his mind. He had taken refuge from this raw emptiness in a superhuman effort to concentrate his mind exclusively upon the string of ceremonies which he had daily to perform. He had not tried to rescue a single volume from the shelves, for even while the flames leapt around him he knew that every sentence that escaped the fire would be unreadable and bitter as gall, something to taunt him endlessly. It was better to have the cavity in his heart yawning and compeltely empty than mocked by a single volume. Yet not a day passed but he knew his grip had weakened.” (p. 247)

4 thoughts on “Gormenghast Read-Along: Week Three on Titus Groan”

  1. Whenever I hear of someone losing their home, due to financial ruin, or some terrible storm, or fire, or other natural disaster, I always wonder what happened to their books…after knowing that the family is all right. I think the books are the one possession, more than my jewelry, more than my crystal, more than anything I can name other than letters, which would be most distressing to me. I had to put this quote because of its simple power and revelance to us bibliophiles.


  2. So, true, Jackie, and it's almost difficult to take them out of context. I love Peake's writing; often in the past I would grow tired of an author's prose going on and on and one. But, Mervyn Peake seems to wrap me up in the atmosphere he's created. I just love this book.


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