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Titus Awakes: A Novel Hardcover – July 7, 2011

3.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
Book 4 of 4 in the Gormenghast Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Mervyn Peake:
?A gorgeous, volcanic eruption . . . a work of extraordinary imagination.? --"The New Yorker"
?Mervyn Peake is a finer poet than Edgar Allan Poe, and he is therefore able to maintain his world of fantasy brilliantly through three novels. It is a very, very great work . . . a classic of our age.? --Robertson Davies, author of The Deptford Trilogy
?[Peake's books] are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience.? --C.S. Lewis
?The true fantasy classic of our time.? --"The Washington Post"
?Peake's style is marvelous... His inventiveness, his ingenuity, and his humor are astonishing.? --"San Francisco Chronicle"
?Many readers admire Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, but fans of Mervyn Peake's Titus trilogy maintain that this extravagant epic about a labyrinthine castle populated with conniving Dickensian grotesques

Praise for Mervyn Peake:
"Gormenghast is grotesque, gory, ghastly, mystical, lyrical, monstrous, mind-bending, and inarticulably beautiful." -- The Scattering Blog
"A gorgeous, volcanic eruption . . . a work of extraordinary imagination." --"The New Yorker"
"Mervyn Peake is a finer poet than Edgar Allan Poe, and he is therefore able to maintain his world of fantasy brilliantly through three novels. It is a very, very great work . . . a classic of our age." --Robertson Davies, author of The Deptford Trilogy
"[Peake's books] are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience." --C.S. Lewis
"The true fantasy classic of our time." --"The Washington Post"
"Peake's style is marvelous... His inventiveness, his ingenuity, and his humor are astonishing." - -"San Francisco Chronicle"
"Many readers admire Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, but

"Gilmore finishes her husband's lush, fantastical Gormenghast series, drawing on the pages Peake left behind with his death in 1968." - - "LA Times"
Praise for Mervyn Peake:
"A gorgeous, volcanic eruption . . . a work of extraordinary imagination." --"The New Yorker"
"Mervyn Peake is a finer poet than Edgar Allan Poe, and he is therefore able to maintain his world of fantasy brilliantly through three novels. It is a very, very great work . . . a classic of our age." -- Robertson Davies, author of The Deptford Trilogy
"[Peake's books] are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience." --C.S. Lewis
"The true fantasy classic of our time." -- "The Washington Post"
"Peake's style is marvelous... His inventiveness, his ingenuity, and his humor are astonishing." --"San Francisco Chronicle"
"Many readers admire Tolkien's Lord of the

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.

Maeve Gilmore (1918-1983) was a painter, sculptor, and writer. She married Mervyn Peake, author of the Gormenghast novels, in 1937. She is the author of A World Away, and the editor of Peake's Progress.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; First Edition edition (July 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159020428X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590204283
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,539,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With all due respect to the one other reviewer I see here so far, I feel very differently about this exquisite tome written by the hugely talented Maeve Gilmore to bring the awful interruption of her husband's remarkable career to some closure.

Perhaps I feel some special sympathy with Mervyn Peake who spent early years in China, as much later I was growing up as the son of missionary parents in Thailand when I first read the three books he completed about Titus Groan. Understandably, anyone wishing to return into the glorious detritus of Gormenghast itself may feel disappointed with TITUS AWAKES. However that is not the point of this book. Indeed, to attempt that would dishonor Peake's unique creation--worst of all it would violate the integrity of Titus himself as a living, breathing fictional character of great depth, complexity, and psychological realism.

For Titus that would be a giant-step back into the nightmarish realm of his childhood, in which only the love of his doomed sister Fuschia, the decent Dr. Prune and the loyal Flay redeemed the stultifying horrors of fossilized tradition. With Fuschia and Flay long dead and the good doctor merely kow-towing to Titus's overwhelming mother, he has plentiful reasons never to return. In fact his remarkable yet somewhat monstrous mother is good enough reason for Titus to stay away, if he wishes to attain any degree of self-relization. And he does wish it and he does accomplish it!

Only Maeve Gilmore who worked so closely with her brilliant husband could have picked up the few fragments he left and fashioned anything so lovely and profound as TITUS AWAKES.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Gormenghast Trilogy is one of the great works of speculative fiction. The first 2 volumes combine characterization reminiscent of Dickens, the strong visual sense of Tolkien and elements of Kafka's fantastic internal logic to provide a lifetime reading experience. In the third volume, Titus, the 77th Earl of Groan, leaves the castle to explore the rest of the realm. Titus Alone is a much shorter work that does not include the brilliant cast of characters from the prior 2 volumes and is also missing the most impressive of Peake's achievements: the physical setting of the Castle.

July 2011 has been a banner month for fans of Gormenghast. First the Folio Book Society announced a new edition of the trilogy followed by the publication by Overlook of a number of volumes based on work left behind by the author. Among these is Titus Awakes. In the introduction, we are told that Gormenghast was not conceived as a trilogy but as " a cycle of novels chronicling Titus' life and travels written in a style that is frequently categorized as a hybrid of fantasy and gothic fiction." This new volume is written by Peake's wife, Maeve Gilmore, based on a "fragment" by the master.

There are two problems with this brief addition to Gormenghast. The first is that it resembles the third volume, Titus Alone, and the second is that the writing is weaker than that of Mervyn Peake. After Titus awakes, he roams passively through the more modern world outside the castle. Accompanied by a dog named Dog, Titus is nursed back to health by villagers, captured by soldiers and bedded by an artist, before he accepts a position as an aide in a psychiatric ward. He is transformed from being "dispossessed by his own act of will" to a realization that life and the love of it are paramount.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not, in any meaningful sense, a continuation of the "Gormenghast Trilogy." It is not even a pendant to it. It is a novel that takes as its protagonist a character of the same name, and apparently the same history, but little or no actual psychology in common with the Titus of "Gormenghast" and "Titus Alone."

Where the latter was surreal, intense, and visually exciting, this is drab and depressing. Like the trilogy, it is obviously written by an artist, but one without Mervyn Peake's brilliant ability to make the language paint what he wants us to see - Gilmore has some ability in this line, but never reaches the feverish intensity of Peake's best moments.

The titular Titus, having turned his back on Gormenghast once and for all at the end of "Titus Alone," becomes a strangely passive fellow. He moves from place to place, and continually needs rescuing, either from the elements or from his rescuers.

Most of the characters he meets are never given the dignity of names. Those that are tend to be more sympathetic and well-drawn than the anonymous majority, but in the end they are nothing but foils for Titus: for his need for rescuing, for his adolescent insistence on independence and freedom, and for his abandonment.

After looking forward to this book for some time, I think it's fair to say that I'm disappointed. Read Peake's trilogy, but don't bother with this.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first stumbled across "Gormenghast" I immediately dropped all plans to read other books and ardently dug thru bookstores in my search to find everything else Peake wrote, primarily the Titus books. That said, "Titus Alone" seems to have divided the critics as well as the readers, for Titus' departure from Castle Gormenghast and his entry into the "modern" world of factories and cities was a departure from the first two books. I think that division also applies to "Titus Awakes": if you're reading Titus books for Gormenghast, the last two books lack something.

I'm with those who liked "Titus Alone" -- the original version as Peake intended, that is -- in part because he bridges the fantastic if fossilized neo-medieval setting of Castle Gormenghast with the larger, contemporary world of cities and technology and neuroses and so forth. For me this makes Titus a more compelling character and elevates the relevance of the larger tale as it touches on broader existential themes and the like.

When I heard that Maeve Gilmore had taken the fragment for "Titus Awakes" and written it out from Peake's enigmatic list of people and places where Titus goes after "Titus Alone", and that "Titus Awakes" had in fact been published, I again dropped plans to read other books and unquestioningly bought the new novel. Like the post-Gormenghast naysayers, I opened the book with trepidation, reminding myself that this wasn't going to be Gormenghast rehashed, that we weren't going to get the "shimmering nets of language" and all that.

But we do get a poignant novel about transitions in life, specifically Titus' transition from abdication of tradition to stormy young adulthood and beyond.
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