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Gormenghast : Mass Market Paperback – 26 Mar 1972

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 511 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; 2nd. Reprint edition (26 Mar. 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140028900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140028904
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 969,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Mervyn Peake is a master of the macabre and a traveller through the deeper and darker chasms of the imagination" (The Times)

"Mervyn Peake is a finer poet than Edgar Allan Poe, and he is therefore able to maintain his world of fantasy brilliantly through three novels. [The Gormenghast Trilogy] is a very, very great work...a classic of our age" (Robertson Davies)

"[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" (C. S. Lewis) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

'The Gormenghast Trilogy is one of the most important works of the imagination to come out of [this] age' Anthony Burgess, Spectator --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mervyn Peake's seminal work of gothic fantasy is by far the most amazingly crafted piece of English Literature of the 20th Century. Macabre, dark, brooding, and hipnotic.
The desciptive passages (which can take up whole chapters!) are trully spell-binding. This isn't a work to be taken lightly. This is not light reading by any stretch of the imagination - and it will certainly stretch yours.
The ancient, crumbling city of Gormenghast is in an age-old fight for its very existence, bowed under the weight of ritual, and set to implode.
Enter Steerpike, a young man with ambitions to undermine and destroy everything that keeps Gormenghast and the Groan dynasty alive.
Dastardly plots, Murder, madness, treachery... Weird and wonderful characters that Dickens would envy. You name it, it's all here!
Forget the BBC dramatisation (as good as it was), it didn't even come close to this claustrophobic tour de force!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Silas Wegg on 9 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gormenghast is in my opinion the greatest work of imaginative, original and descriptive fiction I have ever read.
It isn't Tolkein, it's nothing like his work. It IS unique. The characters are brilliantly written, bright, mad, dark, and bad; the descriptive passages - which can be whole chapters long - could only have been written by an artist of Peake's ability. The attention to detail will blow your mind.
The plot is murderous - literally, with intrigue and betrayal, madness and merciless violence.
Heck, Peake went insane himself after writing about it so much.
If you're an author - or a wannabe writer - this book will probably have one of two effects on you - or both, but not simultaneously. First it will inspire you; but it can just as easily scare the crap out of you. It did me. But genius is genius. You can't argue with it, fake it or cultivate it. All you can do is admire it.
Thank you for reading this review.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Noverraz on 26 May 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a review of Gormenghast, that is, the second part of the Gormenghast trilogy (after Titus Groan, and before Titus Alone).
After a somewhat slow beginning, in which Mervyn Peake first briefly summarizes Titus Grown by drawing up a list of which characters have died or gone missing, then introduces the reader with the plethora of new characters that are the teachers of Titus, the now seven-year-old seventy-seventh Earl of Gormenghast, the pace hopefully picks up again. And as the pages turn, the story becomes more and more exciting.
Irma Prunesquallor's party, and then her romance and the way the whole affair eventually backfires on Wellgrove, although it does not push the plot further, were fun to read. Titus's growing love for his sister Fuchsia, and at the same time his attempts at shunning both the physical prison that is Gormenghast castle and the mental cage that is its sacrosanct ritual, attempts that lead him into the mysterious forest where lurks the Thing, and to the grotto where Flay has taken shelter, were passionating. Finally, Steerpike's mischievious, murderous ambition, and the others' suspicions that gradually turn into evidences, and the memorable chases in the shadowy maze of the fortress that ensue, were purely mind-boggling.
Mervyn Peake's characters are so complex that in the end you like the ones you despised and hate the ones you loved in the first book. His words give life to such an amazing imagery, it vibrates and dazzles, it's intoxicating. This is magic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rosie Gamgee on 29 Jun. 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The history of the Titus Books

Mervyn Peake's series of works was published in the following order: Titus Groan (1946), Gormenghast (1950) and Titus Alone (1959). In 1970, Penguin Classics published a handsome boxed set of the three illustrated paperback volumes - which is where I came in... For the last four decades I have been delighted to walk the stony corridors of Gormenghast.

Penguin published the novels again in 1983 but this time in one volume with some of Mervyn's own illustrations and with over 1,000 pages to savour. In 1984, BBC Radio 4 broadcast two 90-minute plays based on Titus Groan and Gormenghast, adapted by Brian Sibley and starring Sting and Freddie Jones. In early 2000, the BBC produced and broadcast a four-episode serial, entitled Gormenghast which was based on the first two books of the series. The glittering cast included Christopher Lee, Celia Imrie, Ian Richardson, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Stephen Fry, Warren Mitchell, John Sessions and Zoë Wanamaker.

The trilogy, which has also been published by Folio, by Mandarin and by Methuen, has been described as a celebrated modernist fantasy and although Mervyn Peake was a talented and visionary artist, the story works better on the printed page. The imagination of the reader is much bolder than the limitations of the screen. The first books are a brilliant sojourn in the suffocating castle, trapped within the stone walls like dust motes, in the established ritual which governs the lives of the Groan family and their retainers. The characters which populate the Castle are unlike anyone else you will ever meet - from the highest Lord to the menial kitchen boys, all beautifully drawn.
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