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Titus Alone Hardcover – 25 Jun 1970

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Eyre and Spottiswoode; New impression edition (25 Jun. 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0413444309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0413444301
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,584,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"[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 the Paperback edition.

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
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 on 3 Aug. 1999
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 By Steve Hudson on 25 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
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 By Rod Bryans on 18 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
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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