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Mervyn Peake (1911 - 1968)

Related: British literature - fantasy


Mervyn Laurence Peake (July 9, 1911 - November 17, 1968) was a British modernist writer, artist, poet and illustrator. He is best known for what are usually referred to as the Gormenghast books, though the Titus books would be more accurate: the four works that exist were the beginning of what Peake conceived as a lengthy cycle, following his protagonist Titus Groan from cradle to grave, but Peake's untimely death interrupted the cycle at what is now commonly but erroneously called a trilogy. They are sometimes compared to the work of his contemporary J.R.R. Tolkien, but his surreal fiction was influenced by his early love for Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson rather than Tolkien's studies of mythology and philology. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mervyn_Peake [Nov 2005]

Gormenghast (2000) - Andy Wilson (IV)

Gormenghast (2000) - Andy Wilson (IV) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The BBC's lavish, glowingly designed adaptation of Mervyn Peake's eccentrically brilliant novels Titus Groan and Gormenghast is a triumph of casting. Ian Richardson's Lear-like depiction of the mad earl of a remote, vast, ritual-obsessed building is matched by the brutal pragmatism of Celia Imrie as his wife, the synchronized madness of ZoŽ Wanamaker and Lynsey Baxter as his twin sisters, and the duplicitous charm of Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Steerpike, the kitchen-boy determined to take over no matter how many deaths it costs. John Sessions is surprisingly touching as Prunesquallor, the family doctor who realizes almost too late what Steerpike intends. It is always tricky to film a book dear to the hearts of its admirers. Wilson and his design team achieve a look rather more pre-Raphaelite than Peake's own illustrations--shabby velvets, garish sunlight, and dank, stone passages. The score by Richard Rodney Bennett is full of attractive surprises--fanfares and waltzes and apotheoses--and John Tavener's choral additions are plausibly parts of the immemorial ritual of Gormenghast. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.com

Since its publication at the end of World War II, Mervyn Peake's masterpiece, The Gormenghast Novels," has stood unchallenged as one of English literature's most extraordinary flight of imagination. Its themes of treachery, decay, madness and honor have come to be regarded as a metaphor for the fall of an empire, the passing of an age, and the rise of fascism. The glorious castle of Gormenghast is home to the ancient family of Groan, where nothing has changed for thousands of years. The dynasty is threatened by the charming and evil kitchem-boy, Steerpike. With the birth of a new heir, Titus Groan, Steerpike begins his ruthless ascent to power. As he charms, outwits and terrorizes the castle's inhabitants, only the young and timid Earl of Groan, Titus, stands in Steerpike's way. Who will ultimately rule Gormenghast? --Description via Amazon.com

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