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)
Love and peace - Wozza