A milliner’s invention

A milliner’s invention

Again, the charming Swelter, whose every move is offensive to one sense or another. See, for example, the sound of his feet when he walks. Here his gaping yawn makes nudity seem prim. ‘He does not listen for an answer, but yawns, his face opening lewdly upon...
Sucking at stones

Sucking at stones

Swelter is one of the less attractive characters in Mervyn Peake’s sprawling, crawling, mossy pile of forgotten granite, Gormenghast.  He consumes prodigious quantities of food and wine and is consumed by hatred (fully reciprocated). Peake depicts his...
Of guardian trees

Of guardian trees

A beautiful way to convey the kind, protective presence of someone quietly keeping an eye on the well-being of another.  I hope you have such benevolence in your life, from both people and trees. ‘As the days passed he began to know her better, in the great,...
Quick as …

Quick as …

Not an eye you would want settling its penetrating gaze on you, giving you a cold adder-quick assessment through the lace curtains of its blood-alley veins. This is one of many descriptions of a quite terrifying individual.’So alive is it, this eye, quick as an...
As huge as …

As huge as …

Mervyn Peake is a fount of original similes and metaphors.  Given the granite-gothic ambiance of Gormenghast, it makes sense that ‘huge’ should evoke ‘doom’. ‘… at their centre, between the brittle petals, lies a pool of indigo,...
Like a wound…

Like a wound…

A stunningly original depiction of the pink streaks of dawn resembling a sky-wound. ‘… as the dawn like a wound in the sky welled into her consciousness…’ Source: Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, introduction by Anthony Burgess (London: Vintage...
The emptiness of exile

The emptiness of exile

Flay has spent his whole life – a long one – in the stiflingly familiar circuits and rituals of serving the Earl of Gormenghast, barely leaving the sprawling, mossy, solid walls of the castle. It is his home and as near as he has to a family, even with the...
Ever-narrowing gyres

Ever-narrowing gyres

Swelter, the button-popping portly chef and Flay, the all purpose butler, valet and loyal servant of the Earl of Gormenghast, circle in for the kill in their mortal combat.  No spoilers here, read the book!  ‘… so intense was their hatred … (they)...
Ballooning abdomen

Ballooning abdomen

Flay and Swelter, pitched in a life and death struggle, are at physically opposite extremes – Flay, wiry, knobbly, skinny, and Swelter, the all-tasting chef, round as a demijohn.  Their battle is desperate and all out. ‘… he brings his sharp,...

Pin It on Pinterest