A family gathering for the christening of the heir to the Gormenghast title, Titus, appears to be the first time this disfunctional family gets together since the christening of his now 15 year old sister.
Here, Lady Groan, Countess of Gormenghast, seeing her daft twin sisters-in-law for the first time since then, shows a rare glimmer of soon-passing interest in humans, by asking where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing since the last encounter.
Their response is a gem, particularly as their capabilities in the thinking department are limited to moiling over resentments and grievances.
‘Where have you been since then?’ said Lady Groan …
‘We’ve been in the South Wing all the time, Gertrude,’ replied Cora.
‘That’s where we’ve been,’ said Clarice. ‘In the south wing all the time.’
… ‘Doing what?’ she said.
‘Thinking,’ said the twins together, ‘that’s what we’ve been doing – thinking a lot.’
Lady Groan’s next question, had she been bothered, might have been to ask what they had been thinking about all that time. Their answer would have been ‘power’ for which they have a great hankering, considering Lady Groan herself to have usurped what little they ever had. See their attachment to roofs, for example, as well as another family member’s approach to thinking.
That’s what happens if you sequester yourself in a wing for fifteen years, you go bonkers.
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 (London: Vintage, 1998), p. 100
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