Pub. Date:
The Overlook Press
The Gormenghast Novels / Edition 1

The Gormenghast Novels / Edition 1

by Mervyn Peake


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A doomed lord, an emergent hero, an array of bizarre creatures, and an ancient royal family plagued by madness and intrigue—these are the denizens of ancient, sprawling, tumbledown Gormenghast Castle. Within its vast halls and serpentine corridors, the members of the Groan dynasty and their master Lord Sepulchrave grow increasingly out of touch with a changing world as they pass their days in unending devotion to meaningless rituals and arcane traditions. Meanwhile, an ambitious kitchen boy named Steerpike rises by devious means to the post of Master of the Ritual while he maneuvers to bring down the Groans.In these extraordinary novels, Peake has created a world where all is like a dream: lush, fantastical, vivid; a symbol of dark struggle. Accompanying the text are Peake's own drawings, illustrating the whole assembly of strange creatures that inhibit Gormenghast.Breathtaking in its power and drenched in dark atmosphere, humor and intrigue,The Gormenghast Trilogy is a classic, one of the great works of 20th century British literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780879516284
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Publication date: 12/01/1995
Series: Gormenghast Trilogy
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 1200
Sales rank: 152,250
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.00(h) x 2.25(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Mervyn Peake (1911-1968) was a playwright, painter, poet, illustrator, short story writer, and designer of theatrical costumes, as well as a novelist. Among his many books are the celebrated Gormenghast novels, Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone, and the posthumously published Titus Awakes, the lost book of Gormenghast finished by Peake's wife Maeve Gilmore after his death. The Gormenghast novels, as well as Peake's other writings Mr. Pye and Peake's Progress, are all available from The Overlook Press.

What People are Saying About This

Robertson Davies

"Mervyn Peake is a finer poet than Edgan Allen Poe, and he is therefore able to maintain his world of fantasy brilliantly through three novels. It is a very, very great work...a classic of our age."

C. S. Lewis

"Peake's books are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience."

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The Gormenghast Novels 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
markalanlaidlaw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
perfect for late teenagers......first two books are mind-blowing 'his eyeball a corroded musket ball...!!!
angharad_reads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Coincidentally inherited a copy from a friend, during the same trip that I wolfed down Perdido Street Stn. Finding this a harder slog. I'm a speed-reader, but Peake requires one to read every word.
Ganeshaka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One little known fact about Alaska is that you can actually see Gormenghast from here. The first Lord Groan, Lividus the Redd Headd, was a Russian fur trader. His line died out, due to an accidental poisoning involving a crowberry allergy and lascivious pie eating contest in 1763. But the aristocracy was restored by a Brit usurper, Captain Tits, who comandeered a frigate from Cook's fleet, replete with a cargo of breadfruit, and escaped to the remote fjord island of Gormen, north of Ketchikan - arriving, fortuitously, on the eve of Lividus's funeral. Therein lies a tale, a virgin, and a lying sailor. To be told, when the time comes for telling, as, truthfully, only limeys can...In any event, the castle, and its many outbuildings, still stand, though in disrepair. An offer was made for the property in the 1980's by the Disney Corporation, along with a generous tender to relocate its citizens to L.A., but the 91st Earl Supperblade rejected it for "obvious reasons - we are not cartoon characters, sirrah!". The Alaska ferry system for a time provided service to the community, although it was observed few visitors came and none left. But then the A.V. Fuchsia ran aground in 1989, not not long after the Exxon Valdez disaster. A cousin of Lord Sepulchrave was piloting the vessel. Several harbor seals, and a herd of white cats were lost in the incident. The affair was hushed up by the crew, service discontinued, and Gormenghast's ambassador to the Alaska legislature was recalled within the fortnight..I visited the Main Feasting Hall in 1993, more or less by chance, as I set out on a day hike to Mt. Edgecrumble, and developed hypothermia, and then hyperthermia (hot springs, you see),and then lost my way. Things were NOT much as Titus left them. There was a new Lord named "Tis' Stu". It seems the office of Master of Ritual had devolved to the practice of leaving yellow sticky notes on a communal fridge when there was a "List of things to do! Stu". No one seemed to be mowing the lawn. No cats anywhere.When the sun sets in the Arctic, there is an hour or two of serenity - a blue period - when the sky and sea exchange identities. Birds swim, fish fly, the rain falls from underground, and clouds mill about like crowds, dreaming of the peaceful world below. At such a time, it is a good thing to be a walrus. And so, I think Titus was correct in his decision to -.Spoiler Alert - ...what was I saying?The Gormenghast trilogy is a profound metaphor, poetically put, which will be appreciated by only a few, and should be shared by that elite only on an as needed basis with blood relatives, and only with the best of them. That said, I feel I must reveal to you all that I dearly, dearly loved the novels, if in fact they were novels FOR - as I've said earlier - you can actually see Gormenghast from Alaska!
BeeQuiet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I give this trilogy a five star rating in spite of the fact that the third book, Titus Alone, is poor when viewed in contrast with the first two. What must be taken into account is that Peake was in failing health when he wrote the third, so I shall speak no more on that one.The first two books are a journey through a realm dictated by a strict bureaucracy in the form of the archaic institutions of the Gormanghast dynasty. The imagery is second to none, and gives such a richly textured account of the place and the people as to take the reader's breath away. The descent into chaos is in the same moment both triumphantly and painfully detailed. We can see many parallels with society today if we look for them. This is a stunning tour de force.
Terpsichoreus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Gormenghast books are considered to be the beginning of the 'mannerpunk' genre, and along with Tolkien, Moorecock, and Howard, Peake is one of the fathers of the modern Fantasy genre. Mannerpunk is a genre typified by complex psychology, plots driven by character interaction, and a strong sense of mood. It is also notable for the characters rather than the world being fantastical. In this sense, mannerpunk, and certainly the Gormenghast books, work in the vein of surrealism (meaning not 'unreal', but 'more than the real'); not unlike the Russian Gogol.The genre is based upon the works of authors like Jane Austen, the Brontes, Baroness Orczy, Swift, de Cervantes, and Dumas pere.Peake himself was a polymath, excelling not only as an author, but a poet and artist. In fact, he has works hanging in Britain's National Portrait Gallery. As a poet, he has a mastery of language and conceit that places him above popular 'jingle man' Poe.This makes him quite unlike Tolkien, whose long stretches of verse tend to be stilted and unfeeling. Then again, Peake is more passionate than than Tory Tolkien.Despite his mastery of language and evocative characterization, Peake is not an easy read. Indeed, his thick prose and slow pace can quickly tire the mind. Like a skillful chess opponent, Peake demands much of his reader. He is not content to let the reader be a passive escapist, so his work engages and challenges. It would take a great and knowledgeable mind to meet each of these challenges on equal footing, but even we lesser minds may find amusement, shock, and beauty.Peake's original idea was to chronicle the life of a character from birth to death. The first book deals with infancy. The second takes him into adulthood in a sort of bildungsroman. The third involves the adventures of young adulthood. Unfortunately, Peake's slide into dementia prevented any furthering of this vast and witty trove.In literature, Peake may have come the closest to completing a book which balances complex psychology, deep character, poetic style, exploration of reality, and a surreal mixture reality and fancy. Peake's books were very audacious, and though he sometimes fails to reach his own lofty ideals, the really remarkable thing is that sometimes, he doesn't.
BobNolin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Titus Groan was barely readable, but I'm glad I got through it so I could read Gormenghast and understand the backstory. That was a pretty good story. I skipped Titus Alone, since the story really seemed to have ended by the second book, and he was in failing health when he wrote TA. 800 pages is enough, I figure. Not sure I understand why the Fantasy Encyclopedia calls this sui generis and a masterpiece. It seemed a bit odd, not very much in the fantasy mode, and often way too long. Peake developed quite a lot after writing the first book. It's a shame he wasn't able to write more. I needed to check this one off my life list, and now it's done.
ParadoxicalRae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my most favorite books of all time. The story begins with the birth of the 77th Earl of Groan, Titus. On the same day, a very determined kitchen boy, Steerpike, begins his ruthless climb up the social ladder of the castle. The first two books are incredibly good but the third is heavily edited and seems unfinished--from what I gather, it's because Peake died before he could finish the novel. However, the first two are well worth it.
bromeliad_water on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible, mind-expanding acid-trip of a poetic, wordy book in three parts, the first two of which are a must-read for any fantasy fan. It's one of the most impressive, most timeless masterpieces of fantasy I have ever read, certainly matching the likes of Beagle's The Last Unicorn. If I could only take one book with me to a deserted island for a year, this would easily be it. The dark, gothic overtones might drive me crazy, though -- it's a grand but terribly gothic epic, and though it's quite difficult to crack open the first time, it is utterly impossible to put down thereafter. This book has a soul which has a quality of stickiness so that it remains inside of you forever. And, this copy has a number of substantial, enlightening essays in the back of it, so never fear! Even after you finish the trilogy, you'll still be able to read about it -- and trust me, you'll want to. I desperately wanted Gormenghast to never end, and at a whopping 1172 pages total, that's saying something.
MerricMaker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bleech! Peake must have been a single most unwelcome guest at the Inkling's table at the Eagle and Child. Lewis and Tolkien probably just learned to tune him out.
comfypants on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Titus Groan (the first book) is amazing. I couldn't begin to describe it; it's completely different from anything I've read before. There's an almost absurd attention to detail, but at the same time it never fails to be fascinating and page-turning.Much of Gormenghast (the second book) continues with that writing style, but at the same time it's an adventure story, so more traditional writing is used to move the plot forward.I had very mixed reactions while reading Titus Alone (the thrid book). At times it was engaging and had me sucked in as much as the first two books. At other times it seemed sloppy and a little confusing, like he just didn't take the time to flesh things out clearly. Then I read a little history-of-critical-reception essay in the back of the book, and it informed me why it seems almost unfinished. It's because it's unfinished. Peake had Parkinson's and couldn't hold a pen or speak clearly enough to finish it, but it had a beginning middle and end so they published it anyway. Thanks, dudes, thanks for telling me that before I read the "book."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A work of pure genius.
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This is my favorite book of all of the hundreds I've read! You feel like you live in the castle with each of his characters walking through the dusty halls. I read this book 20 years ago and twice since. I have never read any other author who made characters come to life as exquisitely as Peake.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Gormenghast! You will be screaming for more when you are done and wondering what treasures Peake might have showered his readers with had he lived to create more literary gems. In his novel, Gormenghast, Peake paints pictures that would make the seeing person seem blind. His juicy words and captivating attention to the intricate surrounding of the mythical characters provide a fairy-tale playground for your mind. Without a doubt, Peake is the Shakespear of his genre. The memories are still more fresh in my mind than any movie I have ever seen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The character developement and literary quality is unparralled by any novel I have read so far. The lack of supernatural and the fantastical qualities of the characters contrast deliciously. Anyone who skips this book skips the experience of a lifetime.
Guest More than 1 year ago
These are books that one never forgets. Readers either love or hate them. They lead the reader into a world outside of ours, bizarre and fantastic yet grounded in realistic details. One of the great fantasy novels, especially the first book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the most fascinating stories I have read. Recently, I just saw the television movie of it, and I just can't get enough out of it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read this book about 6 years ago. I've read it 3 more times. I have never ready anything like this before or since and have been searching for anything that comes close. If you love fantasy... don't read this book. You'll never be satisfied again!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a work this is a hard one to classify - it feels like a Gothic fantasy, but not quite, for there are no supernatural elements. In fact it has a very potent feel of realism, and at the same time of total disconnection with the normal everyday world. The castle of Gormenghast exists in its own world, one that is endlessly interesting. It never becomes a mere escapist flight of fancy because of the grim realities faced by the characters in their prison, as it were, of stone and mortar. Without ever presenting any 'moral' or symbolism, Peake's work is throught-provoking as well as emotionally moving. I can't see any reason why any reader shouldn't try this book at least once.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mervyn Peake creates a beautiful and mysterious world in the Gormenghast Trilogy. The characters are unlike any in other books that I have read. They are unique and changing just like real people. The whole thing is like liquid poetry. It just flows through you. A definate 'must read' for any avid fantasy reader.