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Mr Pye Paperback – 2 Dec 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (2 Dec. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099283263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099283263
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The novel gives a clear sense of Sark as somewhere both remarkable and beautiful." (The Guardian)

"I am delighted to meet you,' trills Mr Pye to a fisherman. 'Are you, eh, you fat little porker,' the thug replies. 'B- you." (-)

"Peake has been praised, but he has also been mistrusted," observed Anthony Burgess in his introduction to Titus Groan . "His prose works are not easily classifiable: they are unique as, say, the books of Peacock or Lovecraft are unique . . . It is difficult, in postwar English writing, to get away with big rhetorical gestures. Peake manages it because, with him, grandiloquence never means diffuseness; there is no musical emptiness in the most romantic of his descriptions; he is always exact." (Anthony Burgess)

"The fable is cleverly and gracefully resolved and the final scenes are a joy to read. Peake's illustrations complement the novel very well and these, too, are examples of his charm, of his enormous illustrative range." (Washington Post)

Book Description

Brimming with good cheer, Mr Pye decides to bring peace and love to Sark's 289 eccentric inhabitants. This is a charming fable about the battle bewteen good and evil.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Although this book is not quite "Gormenghast" it still shows off Peake's exquisite descriptive powers. Not as gloomy or epic as his masterpiece, it has a much simpler plot, however "Mr Pye" keeps the same eccentric characterisation and rich dickensian writing style that makes Peake such a brilliant writer.
Some have said that the book is childlike in it's plot and dialogue. This is completely untrue. Although very humerous, "Mr Pye" is at times deeply disturbing, as one would naturally expect with Mervyn peake.
So, although very different atmospherically to "Gormenghast", this book is still very well worth a read.
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Format: Paperback
After Gormenghast, I was hungry for more work by this superb author and happily, I came by this. Mr. Pye started off rather slowly, but by the third chapter I was utterly hooked by this simple, yet powerful fable of morality. It doesn't hit the heights of the Gormenghast Trilogy by a long shot but it is a very different creature all together. Most certainly worth a look
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Format: Kindle Edition
A delightful, delicious & sometimes mischievous account of one man's attempts to find a meaningful role for himself. Highly amusing & increasingly intriguing. Skilful characterisation of the main cast.
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Format: Paperback
A very slow start is enlivened by Peake's droll wit and deft prose, but put your crampons on because the story only starts to bite halfway through. As I could never get a handle on who Pye is when we first meet him - or even whether he's an ordinary mortal - it was hard to care about the strange transformations he has to go through later.

It is quite a page-turner from the midpoint onwards, and I kept thinking, well now, I can't see how he's going to end this but it's going to be interesting. The snag is that I think Peake was probably thinking the same thing. The ending felt rushed and I was left with a kind of "okay then" feeling.

This could just be because I'm not familiar with the context in which it was written. Some spoilers now... Towards the end, Pye is succoured by Tintagieu, with whom he and we have almost no relationship, while the relationship we do care about - with jolly-hockeysticks Miss Dredger - is more or less discarded. One review says that the reason for this is it's a parallel with Jesus and Mary Magdalene. That'd be a shrug from me, then. I don't know or care enough about Christian narrative to get that, nor was I anything but bemused when Mr Pye's idea of doing evil appears to involve drawing runic pentacles around a tethered goat at midnight. Even if that's a euphemism for doing other things to the goat, it's hardly evil - and must have seemed even less so just seven years after the liberation of Auschwitz.

I read this just after Hilary Mantel's Fludd - deliberately, because I felt they might complement each other. The odd thing is (spoilers, remember) that Fludd actually is a supernatural being and we are given almost no clue to that from Ms Mantel, if you don't count her comments in the preface.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since Mervyn Peake's parents were missionaries in China from the time of his birth until he was 12, it is not a surprising topic for his standalone novel set in the wonderful Channel island of Sark - where he lived for several periods within his life. Having estalished reality in his novel, the story itself is actually a fantasy.

Harold Pye travels from England to Sark where he takes it upon himself to reform the islanders (residents and natives) and convert them to following The Great Pal(God). He assembles his cast of disciples: Miss Dredger his landlady, Miss George her sworn enemy, Thorpe, the resident painter and Tintagieu "a girl of easy virtue". Mr Pye is repeatedly hummiliated in front of his congregation and questions his relationship with the Great Pal until the end of the novel, where he leaves the island "which was nothing but a long wasp-waisted rock".

I disliked Harold Pye immediately: he is arrogant and self-opinionated, he lacks compassion, he is proud and patronising and difficult to feel affection for. I find the most attractive character in the story is Tintagieu who is promiscuous but innocent, amoral in fact. She disliked Mr Pye when he was drawing crowds but when they start to humiliate him, she becomes supportive and wishes to help. Hers is one of the important conversions of the novel. Another important character in the book is the island of Sark itself - it is as well to read the book with a map of the island to hand just to understand how the action moves around the wasp-waisted island.

It's a great story, easy to read but written in beautiful English (someone is described as having "a face as blank as a mushroom", isn't that marvellous?).
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Format: Paperback
No, Mr Pye shouldn't be compared to the astounding Gormenghast, but it is still a sweetly quirky and entertaining book. Peake's oddball sense of humour shines through, and the characters are his usual mad bunch of weirdos. Very lively and imaginative, and if you appreciate it on it's own merits and not as a work by the author of Gormenghast, you'll find it quite delightful.
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