The physician of Gormenghast is one of the most likeable, humane and sane of the colourful characters that people the story; while being every bit as idiosyncratic as the rest of them. His strange voice is complemented by a slightly grating, nervous-sounding laugh.  Here Peake gives an intricate description of the voice merging into laughter. 

For other voice-related metaphors from the same book, see the Countess herself, her cats and an old man from the humble outer Dwellings, together with a description by Christopher Logue on the subtle qualities of Odysseus’ voice.

‘… a top-storey of his vocal range that only came into its own when the doctor laughed.  There was something about it of wind whistling through high rafters and there was a good deal of the horse’s whinny, with a touch of the curlew.’  

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. 39

Photo credit: Leo Fosdal at


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