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Gormenghgast Titus Alone [Paperback]

Mervyn Peake
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Mar 2008
Titus Groan has fled the rambling, ruined and ruinous castle of Gormenghast, desperate for a view of the world beyond. But he wasnt prepared for this. Satellites, death-rays, sinister policemen and underworld outcasts live in a nightmarish contemporary city that feels like something by Wells, Burroughs or Philip K. Dick. Threatened and lost, he begins to miss the home he left; but surely he wont be tempted back?
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press; Reprint edition (31 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585679925
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585679928
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,696,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"[The Gormenghast Trilogy] is one of the most important works of the imagination to come out of the age that also produced The Four Quartets, The Unquiet Grave, Brideshead Revisited, The Loved One, Animal Farm and 1984." (Anthony Burgess)

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

"Peake's books are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before" (C. S. Lewis) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The third of the bestselling Gormenghast trilogy. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most pleasure I ever had from a book 15 Jan 2008
By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER
I first read this when I was 14 whilst recovering from a chill, and I devoured it in a couple of days. I have read it, and its companions, 'Gormenghast' and 'Titus Alone', five or six times since, and hope and expect to read them a few more times yet.

You read these books for their extraordinary prose, which has a flavour somewhere in the region between Dickens and Dali. While the plot is huge, intricate and subtle, plot remains secondary. The reader must allow the dense, intricate prose to paint its vivid pictures in the mind, as strange and idiosyncratic as the illustrations and paintings for which Peake is also famous. As a celebration of the English language he is there alongside the best of writers. Those in search of a good yarn may find such writing tedious, but for those who like to savour language this is a feast.

The books are frequently described as fantasy, but they are fantasy in a sense entirely distinct from the heroic fantasy tradition resurrected from the Norse, by Tolkien, Lewis and their like. In the world of Gormenghast what heroism there is, is bent and twisted and always ultimately futile. There is little space for moral manoeuvre where the roles of most characters are prescribed to a minute degree by an immutable ancient tradition. The world of Gormenghast is a vast crumbling castle, that has stood for time immemorial, isolated from the world outside. It could be anywhere or anytime. It is populated by a cast of characters made exquisitely eccentric by the castle and the entrenched, stifling tradition it represents. The wonderful characters whom we come to love and loathe include;

Dr Prunesquallor, obliged by his position to behave as a buffoon, but the one source of sanity throughout the insane unfolding of events.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
i first read this book 13 years ago and it still exercises a hold over me. the beauty of the prose is similar in many respects to Dickens but Peake has taken the victorian style and mutated it into something fragile. the book is set in a crumbling castle whose inhabitants lives are shored up by an empty series of fantastic rituals, echoing a long lost splendour from which they derived their meaning. the force of change arrives in the shape of the diabolic kitchen boy, Steerpike and the young inheritor of the castle is sucked in by him, as are all the other odd characters that populate the castle. it's like 'name of the rose' meets 'bleak house'. a compelling and beautifully poetic read that will lead you to the other two books (not as good as Peake was to soon die of sleeping sickness - the third book is reconstructed from his notes). after all this time, i still am in love with book and remain convinced that Peake is an unique and under-studied genius
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable experience 25 Nov 2011
This is a simply beautiful, wonderful book. It affected me deeply when I read it.

It's also a unique book, in my experience, in that this is a fantastical, farcical and impossible world (Gormenghast Castle is seemingly as big as a small city; the existance of a 77th Lord Groan would be a near impossibility in our unstable world), yet there is (almost) nothing supernatural here. Our own physical laws apply. This is actually part of our world. At one point a character opens a bottle of French wine. This is not a different reality.

The writing is rich and overblown, like a massive fruitcake. Somehow this works superbly well; normally I would dislike such books, but here the complexity of the writing builds up a claustrophobic, frightening atmosphere of horror and absurdity. One slip, and it would collapse into twee Tolkeinesque or bloat into swords-and-sorcery; Peake never slips.

One thing I loved about this book is that most of the characters seem hard to like at first, but as they become more distinct, you start to see the subtle, loving relationships between some of them - mostly around Fuschia, daughter of Lord Groan.

The names of the characters are wonderful - the cook Swelter, the bone-thin dried-up old servant, Flay, Nanny Slagg, Doctor Prunesquallor (my personal favourite). Scenes from the book, with their mad vividity, linger in your mind. The Hall of Bright Carvings, which opens the book, with wooden carvings each representing the creative pinnacle of a peasant's life, forgotten under layers of dust in the Groan's castle. The fight to the death between Swelter and Flay; the meeting between Steerpike and Fuschia; the absurdity of Lord Groan being obliged by tradition to eat his dinner while a dwarf capers on the table in front of him.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still stunning... 18 Aug 2011
I first read this book back at college in the 70's. To re-read it was a joy. I remembered the visceral pleasure of reading something disconnected from the world I inhabited with a scope of language I'd never encountered before.

Later moving to Jersey I visited Sark, where Mervyn Peake had written a good part of the book, and was picked up at the harbour by a horse drawn carriage there being no cars on Sark. This lean, long, angular figure turned to speak to us and I was immediately confronted by a character straight of Gormenghast. The shock of that sensation still lingers with me.

This is a beautiful dark book whose characters are so distinctly drawn and the writing still glistens on the page.

Read the book. Visit Sark.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superbly written and stunningly odd.
Published 12 days ago by Ian Kirkwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Gormenghast
Finished book one. Been meaning to read this trilogy for years. I wasn't disappointed. Beautifully written by a true craftsman.
Published 29 days ago by Geddary
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much for modern day life
I would have enjoyed the world of Titus Groan much more had I read this fantasy novel in 1946 when it was published before the advent of TV, the internet and e-books invaded my... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pauline Butcher Bird
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and pleasurable read
This first book in the Gormenghast series is a fine read. It isn't really the story of Titus Groan, heir to the Gormenghast "throne", as he is just a baby in this book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Satori Hugh
5.0 out of 5 stars Peake practice
An heir is born to the family Groan. Titus will inherit the huge, sprawling, crumbling Castle Gormenghast and all its strange denizens, the Bright Carvers who dwell without and a... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Crookedmouth
5.0 out of 5 stars Titus Alone, the final Act
This is a most remarkable piece of literature. It takes the reader after two previous books, in one sentence from the medieval world of the Castle, with its rituals, it's middle... Read more
Published 8 months ago by John of Knaresborough
5.0 out of 5 stars a good book
I purchased this on behalf of a neighbor. After this I have decided I will not buy anything on behalf of anybody again. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rosalind Spencer
5.0 out of 5 stars Gormenghast
I read the trilogy ages ago but gave away the books.............loving it lots reading them again! Won't give these away!!!
Published 14 months ago by Vivienne A Drohan
5.0 out of 5 stars Titus pulls it off
Titus comes across as a spoilt teenager and the other characters are stereotypical caricutures but the story still keeps one listening. Read more
Published 15 months ago by BatReader
4.0 out of 5 stars So Far
So far it's fine. I'm about quarter of the way through.
Wouldn't say I can't put it down, but i do go about 5 chapters at a time. Very discriptive. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Rosie Bird
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