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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two hilarious satires.
Peacock's satirical novels mock various aspects of nineteenth century life; Nightmare Abbey (1818) examines the romantic movement of the early nineteenth century and Crotchet Castle (1831) pokes fun at the political economists and scientific philosophers of the same era.
Most of the principal characters in Nightmare Abbey are based on real life figures who were known...
Published on 31 Dec 2000 by scat0346@sable.ox.ac.uk

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1.0 out of 5 stars Disappopinting classics for a casual reader
If you are interested in 19 Century writing you will have seen these pieces frequently mentioned; but unless you really want to know them I can't recommend them as light reading.
Published 3 months ago by J. B. Swingler


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two hilarious satires., 31 Dec 2000
This review is from: Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Peacock's satirical novels mock various aspects of nineteenth century life; Nightmare Abbey (1818) examines the romantic movement of the early nineteenth century and Crotchet Castle (1831) pokes fun at the political economists and scientific philosophers of the same era.
Most of the principal characters in Nightmare Abbey are based on real life figures who were known to Peacock. He was a close friend of Shelley, who was caricatured as the hero of Nightmare Abbey. The book is very readable today both because of the alternative slant we see on people (Byron and Coleridge as well as Shelley) whose works many of us will have read and because Peacock's works are genuinely funny. This is one of the few books that makes me laugh aloud.
Crotchet Castle is, perhaps, less accessible to us, as few of us will be as interested in the characters mimiced in the novel. It is still extremely amusing though, and Peacock's portrayal of fly-by-night business men will surely be valid for centuries to come.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pandemonium ensues!, 29 Mar 2007
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This review is from: Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Thomas Love Peacock invented the novel of ideas, which sees the coming together in one place of a number of "opinionated faddists" with diametrically opposite views for the purpose of a "good dinner" and good light-hearted satire.

Here are two of his best attempts, Nightmare Abbey and Crotchet Castle, where the assembled faddists between them disseminate and discredit the intricacies of contemporary artistic and political culture. Nightmare Abbey sees Scythrop (gloomy-face) Glowry play host to an assortment of morbid and eccentric caricatures including those of Mr. Flosky (Coleridge) and Cypress (Byron) all chasing, or being chased by, ghosts, mermaids, drunken French valets and good dinners served up on a plate of classical allusion, metaphysical obscurity and a wilful lack of common-sense. Crotchet Castle, the later work, provides more of the stock Peacock scene with characters this time focused on dismantling any serious conceptions of industry and political economy.

Peacock's characters are all joyously tangled up in their own obsessions, ranging from Kantian Transcendentalism to Ichthyology, and which invariably send them into either verbal collisions around the dinner-table or a more crudely pantomime type, colliding and banging down stairs "like two billiard-balls in one pocket". He has a great sense for the absurd and has me laughing out loud over an otherwise assumedly unpromising collection of comedy characters.

Peacock was labelled `the laughing philosopher' in his time, and prided himself on his wide knowledge of classical literature and an Epicurean sensibility, but don't let this put you off. His novels are pure nonsense; they're a veritable rag-bag of farce, romantic idealism, philosophical absurdity all coloured with contemporary allusions and harmless rib-jabbing at what he saw as the unnecessary ideologico-scientifico- improbabo-historico-distractions from the simple and natural virtues of "a very good dinner."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 13 Jun 2010
By 
E. Dawson "Beetroot" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Do not be put off with the comments that a reader must be well-learned in the Classics and the literature of this time to understand this book. I had never read Peacock before and read it online, with no notes or commentary, and although there are many Latin quotations and some obscure references, do not give up. If you are really interested in works from this time period (Shelley, Byron, Coleridge, Gothic, and Romantic) then persevere and it will pay off. I do not know what the notes are like in this edition, but the Latin and Greek phrases used are mostly well known so just typing them into google will give you their meaning. And you may find yourself becoming a little better learned in such phrases - however I had not yet used them in conversation so I am not sure how anyone I am talking to would respond to the use of *charivari* (hubbub) or *taedium vitae*.
Peacock appears to be a great lover of words, using many obscure words, and, as a Classical scholar, has coined many Greek-esque words for an amusing effect: hyperoxysophistical (over specious) being one of them. But do not let them scare you, usually they are used in the context of mocking the character, and in this case, it is used more for the obscurity and complex length of the word to mock the complexity and obscurity of the metaphysics of Mr. Flosky (Coleridge), than its particular meaning. For example:

"MARIONETTA
I will take it for granted that it is so, Mr Flosky; I am not conversant with metaphysical subtleties, but---

MR FLOSKY
Subtleties! my dear Miss O'Carroll. I am sorry to find you participating in the vulgar error of the reading public, to whom an unusual collocation of words, involving a juxtaposition of antiperistatical ideas, immediately suggests the notion of hyperoxysophistical paradoxology.

MARIONETTA
Indeed, Mr Flosky, it suggests no such notion to me. I have sought you for the purpose of obtaining information.

MR FLOSKY (shaking his head)
No one ever sought me for such a purpose before."

Peacock is very witty and very learned. But it is light-humoured satire, being mostly conversation, or sometimes farce, and not biting or offensive in its caricatures. Many of the subjects were Peacock's friends or acquaintances, so it is fascinating to see his portrayal of Shelley and others.

Towards Mr. Cypress however (a portrait based on Byron) Peacock seems a little less forgiving, but the character's statement that:
"Sir, I have quarrelled with my wife; and a man who has quarrelled with his wife is absolved from all duty to his country."
And the references to passages in *Childe Harold* are amusing to whoever has read his work.

If this sort of humour appeals to you and maybe you study a little bit of the Romantics, or just enjoy reading them, then I cannot recommend this work more. I am only saddened that it is so little read and wish Penguin would continue to publish it (I cannot find it on Penguin's website).

I am not yet a Peacock devotee, but Nightmare Abbey seems the most approachable of his works, and I am looking forward to later reading Crotchet Castle - I only hope it is as good as Nightmare Abbey!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious satire, 29 Dec 2013
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Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Thomas Love Peacock is (or was) one of the few better-known authors from this period whom I hadn't read anything of, so two books in one volume ('Nightmare Abbey' and 'Crotchet Castle') seemed like the perfect start. And I must say, they are both unlike anything I've ever read! To call them novels would be stretching a point, since there is just the flimsiest of plots, though they do center around a number of fictitious (albeit based in some cases on actual people). Neither could one say that they are essays, though they do present a number of critical thoughts on different topics: 'dark' romanticism in the case of 'Nightmare Abbey', and political economy and scientific progress ('rationalism' one might say) in 'Crotchet Castle'.

In both cases the set-up is similar: the bulk of both books consists of the animated and lively discussions of a number of people on the topics mentioned above. I realize this may sound awfully boring, but rest assured it is anything but that. First of all, the characters are most often more like stereotypes, embodying certain beliefs and principles, and the fact that they do so to an extreme degree and are unable/unwilling to consider a different point of view makes their conversations absolutely delightful and often hilariously funny. True enough, some of the characters are based on actual people Peacock knew (such as Shelley) but, though it may increase the pleasure if you're familiar with Shelley's biography, this is by no means necessary to enjoy the books. On top of the delicious dialogue and conversations, Thomas Love Peacock has a knack of introducing elements of situational comedy which makes for laugh-out-loud moments.

All in all, I terribly enjoyed reading both 'Nightmare Abbey' and 'Crotchet Castle', and I would urge anyone to give both books a try and discover the sheer fun of making the acquaintance of, amongst others, Scythrop Glowry (was ever man or woman blessed/cursed with a more eccentric first name?), Mr. Flosky, Mr. Larynx, Mr. Chainmail and Mr. Toobad.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Disappopinting classics for a casual reader, 21 Sep 2014
By 
J. B. Swingler (Vale of Evesham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
If you are interested in 19 Century writing you will have seen these pieces frequently mentioned; but unless you really want to know them I can't recommend them as light reading.
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Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle (Penguin Classics)
Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle (Penguin Classics) by Thomas Love Peacock (Paperback - Jun 1969)
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