Baby Titus, born into a crumbling, rambling pile of stone, with parents of a warmth and tenderness approximately equivalent to the building material of their castle. Here is his mother, prescribing his care for the first five years of his life, at which point she will be willing to connect with him, when he is ready to be taught useful things.

‘Slagg,’ said the Countess, ‘go away!  I would like to see the boy when he is six.  Find a wet nurse from the Outer Dwellings.  Make him green dresses from the velvet curtains.  Take this gold ring of mine.  Fix a chain to it.  Let him wear it around his wry little neck.  Call him Titus.  Go away and leave the door six inches open.’ 

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 Books, 1998), p. 50

Photo credit: Agzam at pixabay


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