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Titus Alone (Book three of Gormenghast Trilogy) Paperback – Bargain Price, March 25, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Gormenghast Trilogy Series

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Paperback, Bargain Price, March 25, 2008
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Editorial Reviews


"[The Gormenghast Trilogy] is one of the most important works of the imagination to come out of the age that also produced The Four Quartets, The Unquiet Grave, Brideshead Revisited, The Loved One, Animal Farm and 1984." Anthony Burgess "A master of the macabre and a traveller through the deeper and darker chasms of the imagination" The Times "Peake's books are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before" -- C. S. Lewis --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Mervyn Peake (1911-1968) wrote plays, painted, as well as being poet, illustrator, short-story writer, and designer of theatrical costumes, as well as a novelist. Among his many books are the Gormenghast novels, Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook TP (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585679925
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585679928
  • ASIN: B002KE5VIA
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,533,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John L. Velonis on December 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read the Gormenghast Trilogy for the first time when I was in high school, some eighteen years ago, and while many of the scenes and the overall mood remained in my memory, I completely missed most of the humor and beauty in the writing itself, as I discovered when recently rereading Titus Groan. The sonorous, skewed beauty of the language demands to be read slowly and savored as prose poetry -- I read only a few pages a day over several months. Take a passage like the following:
"Suns and the changing of the seasonal moons; the leaves from trees that cannot keep their leaves, and the fish from olive waters have their voices! ... Stones have their voices and the quills of birds; the anger of the thorns, the wounded spirits, the antlers, ribs that curve, bread, tears and needles. Blunt boulders and the silence of cold marshes -- these have their voices -- the insurgent clouds, the cockerel and the worm. ... Voices that grind at night from lungs of granite. Lungs of blue air and the white lungs of rivers. All voices haunt all moments of all days; all voices fill the crannies of all regions."
If you find this sort of thing boring, by all means skip this book. This has almost nothing to do with either Tolkien or his less skilled successors who churn out a 500-page volume every six months. I think it has more in common with a book like Moby Dick (which I have been advised not to read until I reach forty years of age), in that it demands that the reader relate the text to his own experience of life and literature.
Many of the characters are grotesque parodies, but as with other masters of satire, Peake's exaggeration rings truer to life than a more "realistic" depiction would.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Titus Groan is impossible to classify. Is it fantasy? Is it gothic? Is it a Dickensian flight of fancy? Well it's been classified as all of these things, but none of these labels is quite adequate. It is perhaps ultimately best described as a black comedy. The book begins with the birth of the 77th Earl of Gormenghast, a gigantic castle were ritual rules all. Gormenghast castle seems to exist in an alternative universe to ours; however, there is no magic or cuddly hobbits, just grim realism.
The plot chronicles the ramifications of when the royal family and servants encounter Steerpike, a young kitchen worker who finagles his out of kitchen service (most jobs in the castle are assigned along heriditary lines). A self-possessed rebel and clever 17-year-old, Steerpike turns their world upside down. Steerpike is like many people you may know, manipulative, self-serving, and solicitous. However, the royal family and servants are so exceedingly self-occupied, that they are easily tricked by this young upstart. Steerpike may just be the most likeable villian ever; it's hard to blame him for the things he does considering the easy targets he selects.
The book is packed with other extremely memorable characters, including the sullen royal daughter (Fuschia), the Countess who seems to care only about her "pets," innumerable wild birds and and white cats, and her sisters-in-law, the identical twins (Cora and Clarice) who are the primary pawns of Steerpike. The book also provides splendid details about the castles and its world, not surprising considering that Peake is perhaps best known as an illustrator (a few of his illustrations are included here). The writing is dense and ponderous at times, but provides so many laughs and pleasures, that it is well worth the time investment. Of course, Titus Groan is just the first part of an epic. I have not read the remaining two books yet, but am tremendously excited to do. A most highly recommended read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Titus Groan is often mentioned with Lord of the Rings and incorrectly categorized as epic fantasy. This is a gothic drama. The story revolves around a dysfunctional, simple minded, royal family that adheres to archaic traditions. Trouble ensues when an ambitious youth manipulates them in a grab for power. Titus Groan could have been a short story. Weighing in at 400 pages, with 350 pages of deeply poetic detail, you should only read it if you like authors like Charles Dickens. If you're a fan of richly detailed descriptions, you'll probably enjoy this book. In order to help you figure out if you'd appreciate Titus Groan, I've made a simple quiz:

1) Which description do you prefer?
A - Making use of the miniature and fluted precipice of hard, white discoloured flesh, where Fuchsia's teeth had left their parallel grooves, he bit greedily, his top teeth severing the wrinkled skin of the pear, and the teeth of his lower jaw entering the pale cliff about halfway up its face; they met in the secret and dark centre of the fruit - in that abactinal region where, since the petals of the pear flower had been scattered in some far June breeze, a stealthy and profound maturing had progressed by day and night. As he bit, for the second time, into the fruit his weakness filled him again as with a thin atmosphere, and he carefully lowered himself face down over the table until he had recovered strength to continue his clandestine meal. (+50 Points)
B - Steelpike bit into Fuchsia's pear. It was yummy. (0 Points)

2) For every one of these words that you know, give yourself 5 points.
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