The chef is a Rabelasian character oozing excess, and none too likeable. The birth of Titus, 77th Earl of Gormenghast, gives him and his underlings license to drink to oblivion in scenes redolent of Brueghel. Apart from being able to produce gargantuan banquets, the chef is also skilled in invective, here referring to his staff as ‘ghastly little ineffectual fillets’.

Peake is a master of metaphor and here he conjures an original way of describing the chef’s speaking in a confidential tone.

”Firshtly,’ said the chef leaning forward and dropping each confidential word like a cannon ball smeared with syrup.’

See also our bestellar review of this book, with its lavishly illustrated quote-mosaic, packed with fine phrasing and fresh metaphors.  


Source: Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, introduction by Anthony Burgess (London: Vintage Books, 1998), p. 25

Photo credit: Partheeclick at


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