Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The eyes were too deeply set in their pockets of shadow to be seen (Sourdust's eyes)

Re-reading the Gormenghast trilogy is a daily joy.

A joy that will last for a while. In more ways than one! The version I have compiles Mervyn Peake's three masterpieces into one volume of 1023 pages. That's a lot of joy!

This is the third time I've read these books.

Way, way back, when I was a teenager, I bought the three books as a boxed set, using a book voucher from a Christmas gift.

Second outing was about ten years later, as a young man at university (pre SWMBO and children). Improbably, it was a set text in one of my papers; writing an exam essay on it in the Old Arts Building at Auckland University is a very vivid memory. I wish I had a copy of that essay!

Almost 40 years later, here I am for the third time. 

I had an urge to reread it and found this copy at The Piggery in Whangarei.

Aged nicely, its pages are framed by a variety of browns, the heft of the book is also impressive. Even the fact that the binding is very delicate is oddly appropriate (pages 1 to 28 have already liberated themselves).

The experience of luxuriating in Peake's gothic castle and his descriptions of the vast grotesque cast of characters is superb. I am finding myself exercising mindfulness to a deep degree to understand and visualise everything Peake is communicating.

Speaking of the characters: I need to keep a record of them, if only to remember their glorious names.
  • Rottcodd - the curator of the Hall of Bright Carvings
  • Mr Flay - the Earl's butler
  • Abiatha Swelter - the chief chef
  • Steerpike - one of Swelter's kitchen hands
  • The Grey Scrubbers - they scrub the kitchen walls
  • Doctor Alfred Prunesquallor 
  • Irma Prunesquallor - his sister
  • Pellet - their servant
  • Lady Gertrude, the seventy-seventh Countess of Groan
  • Lord Sepulchrave - the seventy-seventh Earl of Groan
  • Titus Groan - their baby son, just arrived
  • Fuchsia Groan - their 15 year old daughter
  • Nannie Slagg
  • Sourdust - the old librarian and advisor to Lord Groan
  • Keda - the wet nurse for Titus
  • Pentecost - the head gardener
  • Shrattle - of the armoury
  • Springers, Wrattle, Spurter - kitchen boys
  • Cora and Clarice - Sepulchrave's sisters (and twins)
Perhaps, I say, perhaps, you can now see why I needed to write them all down.

Love and peace - Wozza

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