She likes to dream that she’s the queen and that when the rest are dead there’ll be no one who can order her to do anything. She said, dear, that she’d burn down the whole place, burn down Gormenghast when she was the ruler and she’d live on her own, and I said she was wicked, and she said that everyone was – everyone and everything except rivers, clouds, and some rabbits. She makes me frightened sometimes.
“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.
Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?
We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.
They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.” ― George R.R. Martin
Marcus Sedgwick: Mervyn Peake’s gothic fantasy has never matched the success of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Maybe it’s just too good
This sums it up:
…For some people it is just too peculiar, but even those that may like it may never come across it simply because it defies classification and easy journalism. The usual term for it is “gothic fantasy”, and though that’s a useful enough shorthand, it does pigeonhole the work somewhat, which can be limiting, especially when it’s a pigeonhole with nothing else in it.
The Gormenghast Trilogy
Mervyn Peake. 1946 - 1959.
3 vol., comprising Titus Groan, ink inscription to front pastedown, spine a little bumped, first state jacket without quotes, some soiling to lower panel, 1946; Gormenghast, spine a little bumped, jacket with some light foxing, 1950; Titus Alone, frontispiece by Peake, jacket with light foxing, 1959, first editions, occasional light foxing, original cloth, spotting to fore-edge, dust-jackets, spines a little browned, but otherwise a good set, 8vo.
________________________________________________ “Withdrawn and ruinous it broods in umbra: the immemorial masonry: the towers, the tracks. Is all corroding? No. Through an avenue off spires a zephyr floats; a bird whistles; a freshet bears away from a choked river. Deep in a fist of stone a doll’s hand wriggles, warm rebellious on the frozen palm. A shadow shifts its length. A spider stirs…
In dark alcoves I have lingered
Conscious of dead dynasties;
I have lingered in blue cellars
And in hollow trunks of trees.
Many a traveler through moonlight
Passing by a winding stair
Or a cold and crumbling archway
Has been shocked to see me there.
I have longed for thee, my Only,
Hark! the footsteps of the Groan!
Lingering is so very lonely
When one lingers all alone.
Will thou come with me, and linger?
And discourse with me of those
Secret things the mystic finger
Points to, but will not disclose?
When I’m all alone, my glory
Always fades, because I find
Being lonely drives the splendour
Of my vision from my mind.
Come, oh, come, my own! my Only!
Through the Gormenghast of Groan.
Lingering has become so lonely
As I linger all alone!
Mervyn Peake, from “Linger now with me, thou Beauty” From Titus Groan
“If ever he had harboured a conscience in his tough narrow breast he had by now dug out and flung away the awkward thing - flung it so far away that were he ever to need it again he could never find it. High-shouldered to a degree little short of malformation, slender and adroit of limb and frame, his eyes close-set and the colour of dried blood, he is climbing the spiral staircase of the soul of Gormenghast, bound for some pinnacle of the itching fancy - some wild, invulnerable eyrie best known to himself; where he can watch the world spread out below him, and shake exultantly his clotted wings.”