Customer Review

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Rather Unnecessary Book, 29 July 2011
This review is from: Titus Awakes: The Lost Book of Gormenghast (Paperback)
I read this book expecting to be disappointed and underwhelmed. Despite her marriage to Mervyn Peake and her own undisputed artistic and literary talents, Maeve Gilmore was never really going to cut the mustard as far as I was concerned. In that respect, my disappointment was a foregone conclusion but I had not expected it to be quite so deep. Apparently, the manuscript to `Titus Awakes' was found in a drawer several years after her death. I have to say at the onset that I wish it had been left undisturbed. Based on a snippet by Mervyn, she has produced a book that made me think it has done more harm than good to the Gormenghast `cause'.

Before his life was so cruelly cut down by illness, Mervyn Peake's intention had been to continue the story of Titus in such a way that he would find himself in a number of different situations. The first of these was in `Titus Alone' in which Titus attempts to break his ancestral ties. Coming hotfoot from the timelessness of the first two books, I personally found the `car chase' premise of `Titus Alone' rather hard to stomach. The recent Peake exhibition in the British Library suggests that this was something that his then publishers were all too aware of: there are letters advising him to be much less specific about the technological details. In `Titus Awakes' we are subjected to a series of adventures which seem both unnecessary and tiresome. We are asked to believe that Titus, who had once displayed the strength of character to tackle the evil Steerpike, has now become little more than a leaf blown by the wind, constantly taking the route of least resistance. While this may be a plausible character development - just - it is also a frustrating one and certainly does not make for interesting reading. The only spark of interest comes later in the book where Titus discovers compassion for the character of the Artist (who one assumes is based on Mervyn himself) and their arrival (again, presumably) on Sark at the very end. Unfortunately, if there is a message here, it went right over my head. Mervyn Peake, although the creator of Gormenghast, was never one of its characters and this overlap of author and creation I found both artificial and pointless. If Maeve Gilmore sought some kind of reconciliation, her own description of her life with Mervyn (A world away: A memoir of Mervyn Peake) surely does the job better.

The publication of this book was presumably aimed at satisfying the craving for more Gormenghast ("The Lost Book of Gormenghast" trumpets the cover!) For me, `Titus Awakes' continues the Gormenghast saga only in its apparent entropy and departure from the original vision.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Sep 2011 22:31:21 BDT
rhscarlo says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jan 2014 03:42:31 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Jan 2014 03:51:26 GMT
I'm aware that most respondents feel that it is unhelpful to comment on what was almost certainly merely a typo in the original post: 'draw' instead of 'drawer'. However I'd like to add some support for that comment. In my experience I find there is a wider tendency deliberately to use the word 'draw' where 'drawer' is correct. Whilst there is a strong argument that language is constantly evolving it seems to me that each loss or confusion of a word should be resisted, if only to test the usefulness of the innovation. Just as importantly, since we are all open to judgement - rightly or wrongly - on how we use language, to mark criticism of such a solecism in an otherwise clearly well-written comment as being 'unhelpful' is itself unhelpful to readers who might be confused about the two words, and be led to accept the substitution as correct - and yes, I know that's a whole argument in itself - and so potentially give a poor impression of themselves in speech or writing to others with a more exact grasp of language. If the whole matter of language were not so tightly bound up with notions of class and level of education this might not matter. But it is, so it does. (And, yes, if my iPad 'spell wrecker' has introduced any unnoticed typos into this comment, or if I've made a mistake in my own use of language, do - please - feel free to draw it to my attention, and thus to the attention of any reader who might thereby be confirmed in their own error.)

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jan 2014 07:39:17 GMT
Gardenque says:
Aileen - thank you for your compliments regarding my original posting. The substitution of `draw' for `drawer' was, as you have correctly suggested, just a typo.

I agree with you that these things should be clarified whenever possible and the notion that changes should be resisted to "test the usefulness of the innovation" is a reassuring one in these days when the avalanche of `text speak' (and its corollaries) seems to be gathering momentum. However, I would respectfully suggest that "solecism" is a bit strong!

I learned a long time ago that it does not pay to be smug about one's use of language and try to remember this always. Sometimes it is better just to keep quiet.

It was with some amusement then that I read Mr. Flavell's review of William Tell and spotted not one but three spelling errors. The old parable about casting the first stone springs instantly to mind.
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