Among the most cherished beings in Mervyn Peake’s sprawling, imaginative Gormenghast, are the teeming masses of white cats belonging to the Countess.  She has more love for furred and feathered friends than for humans, even those of her own producing, though occasionally she manages a passing thought for her son and daughter.

Here Peake conveys the sound of the cats’ collective contentment as it rebounds in an empty room.  I liked the vastness of an ocean being funnelled through the neck of a shell.

‘… and the deep unhurried purring was like the voice of an ocean in the throat of a shell.’

For other voice related metaphors, see the Countess herself, the old man of the Dwellings, and the persuasive power of Odysseus’ voice

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

For other cat related stories, see below, they’re worth it.  


Source: Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, introduction by Anthony Burgess (London: Vintage Books, 1998), p. 35

Photo credit: Free-Photos at

My kinda cats I

My kinda cats – II











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