Sourdust’s skin

Sourdust’s skin

Sourdust is the aged, dusty, crumbling Master of Ceremonies and custodian of endless ritual, rites and rules in the world of Gormenghast castle, having digested a thousand tomes of protocol.  He shuffles and coughs his way in reminding the Earl, Countess and their...
Prunesquallor’s voice

Prunesquallor’s voice

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. ...
A rolling boulder

A rolling boulder

Nanny Slagg meets an old man of the Dwellers, the humble people who live limpet-like on the outer walls of Gormenghast castle.  Here he greets the castle’s envoy with the deference expected.  The description of his voice suggests a low-frequency booming. ...
Newly born, oldly wise

Newly born, oldly wise

A lilting double simile here, each with a timeless simplicity.  Let’s add them to the common stock and start to describe things as being ‘old as the world’, or ‘wise as the roots of trees’.  Or you could shorten the last one to...
Of wine-blue water

Of wine-blue water

The first time I read of the wine-blue Greek sea, I was baffled.  However, I took a second translation to read in Mykonos. Sitting one morning in a blindingly white sunlit courtyard, I cooled my eyes by looking at the sea and suddenly realized what...
Foxy fickle

Foxy fickle

Foxes have had a bad press due to their apparent wiliness.  Whether justified or not, this alliterative allusion deserves to enter common usage. Please, next time you refer to someone as fickle, use this vulpine simile.  ‘… as fickle as a fox.’  See...
Bad but not dull

Bad but not dull

How about that for a jowl-shaking quaff? Proof that bad wine can be ‘interesting’ even if dentally dangerous. See another of Hemingway’s graphic descriptions, this time in a vast soup tureen. And for a different but equally florid wine review, see...
How the other half lives

How the other half lives

Gormenghast has two populations segregated by the walls of the rambling castle. The people outside are treated as lower order beings, but some individuals among them are portrayed with sympathy and admiration, throwing their humble nobility into sharp relief against...
Towering insult

Towering insult

Gormenghast is a vast, sprawling town of a castle, which seems to have spread organically.  Here one of its towers is likened to an aggressive finger, jabbing at heaven.   See, as a contrast, the similarly graphic description of the hovels limpet-glued to its external...

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