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Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works • View topic - Mervyn Peake

Mervyn Peake

for discussing authors currently listed on this site

Mervyn Peake

Postby Jeroen on Wednesday, 28 October 2009, 4:45 am

I have recently begun to read his books. Mervyn Peake strikes me not so much a writer, but more a painter. A painter of scenes and he uses words instead of paint. In broad lines he sketches a room, scrutinizes it from a distance, advances like a predator with his fingers raised high to strike upon his paralyzed keyboard, but when he reaches the keys he puts a few well-chosen words where they belong with a loving touch and a twinkle in his eye. Such are his chapters built up.

His chapters are sometimes not more than a single scene, or a single conversation. You can imagine that the Gormenghast novels do have an elaborate plot because there is simply no time and space for it (but it is not a predictable story at all). But it does not matter, for it is the atmosphere that matters. The tale is set almost entirely within a claustrophobic castle of enormous proportions, Gormenghast, with its mysterious shadows and creaks from old age, howling drafts, twisting alleys and stairs. The characters are near caricatures, stretched to the grotesque but still very compelling and real.

Mervyn Peake created something wholly original by plunging the darkest chasms of his imagination and painted a surrealistic, macabre masterwork that somehow connects to deep roots of my subconscious. Reading Gormenghast is not easy. I cannot read for long stretches because the mood and darkness of the place becomes too oppressive, but I cannot stay away from it for too long because Peake’s descriptions have enveloped my mind. I have never been so fully immersed in another world. The best thing I have read since Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun.
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Re: Mervyn Peake

Postby owlcroft on Wednesday, 28 October 2009, 7:48 pm

Mervyn Peake strikes me not so much a writer, but more a painter.

As you probably know--but I'll mention anway, for others reading this--Peake in fact was well-known and well-respected as both an artist and an illustrator, as well as a novelist of scope and power. The links will show you samples of his works in those areas.
Cordially,
Eric Walker, webmaster
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Re: Mervyn Peake

Postby Jeroen on Monday, 12 April 2010, 5:02 am

Actually I remember it now you mention it. At the time I wrote my above post I didn't made that realisation. I am really glad that I have read those books. If not for your website I might probably not have read them, let alone known they existed.

Have you seen the bbc miniseries? I haven't yet.
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Re: Mervyn Peake

Postby owlcroft on Tuesday, 13 April 2010, 5:19 am

Have you seen the bbc miniseries? I haven't yet.

Yes, I have. Stay miles away: it's dreadful. It might play well with folk who, 1) have never read the books, and 2) have the sensibilities and depth of "American Idol" fans. If this was the BBC's "Millennium" showcase of its abilities, heaven help the poor British. . . .
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Re: Mervyn Peake

Postby Terry Tornado on Friday, 06 May 2011, 6:48 pm

Does anyone know anything about the edition of Titus Awakes being released by Overlook next month? It's available for pre-order on Amazon.
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Re: Mervyn Peake

Postby owlcroft on Saturday, 07 May 2011, 5:41 pm

Only what the web tell us: this from Wikipedia, and this from the Guardian.

Incidentally (or not so incidentally), Peake's son Sebastian--active in Peake-related matters--has a blog titled simply Mervyn Peake. Further note that Sebastian Peake can sell you a DVD of the television production of Peake's too-little known novel "Mr Pye", which is very different from his Titus material, and thoroughly charming. Owing to mailing and other costs, the DVD is not cheap: $45 (US). But I, at least, have already sent off for one. You can make contact with Sebastian through his profile on the blog page (which is not sufficiently obvious: click the little image of him in the upper right), though I should note that that appears to go through a third party. But I don't think I should just put his private email here.

Further note that there is an upcoming new edition of the Titus works that will include a wealth of illustrations by Peake himself (who was also a highly regarded illustrator), many never before published. Sounds like quite a treat. Look for it in mid to late summer (late July is a fair guess).
Cordially,
Eric Walker, webmaster
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