Gormenghast Read-along: Week 9

Titus Alone (Gormenghast trilogy)

Titus Alone

One – Fifty-Eight (p759 -p854)

I was worried about starting Titus Alone as I knew that it meant leaving the wonderful setting of Gormenghast Castle behind. I struggled to see how Peake could match the amazing world he had created in his first two books and unfortunately my fears were justified. The writing was just as vivid, but for some reason the new city didn’t spring to life in the same way the castle had. Perhaps this was because Titus moved so quickly through the city that I was unable to form more than a blurred picture of his surroundings?

Another problem was that there were too many characters and they hadn’t been fleshed out as well as those in the previous books. The images I have of them in my head are vague and there are few illustrations in this section to help me out. Can you form a mental image of the characters in Titus Alone?

The only time I found myself enjoying this book was when Titus reflected on his life in Gormenghast. These seem to be the only sections with real emotion behind them – or perhaps I’m just longing for him to return there and so enjoy the reminiscing?

I also love the way that the residents of the city have not heard of Gormenghast. The letter from Willy to Filby was the first section in this book that made me smile:

It is quite clear in my mind that this young man is suffering from delusions of grandeur.

We often see this sort of thing in modern literature – those who time travel or come from far away can be seen as mad. This was the most interesting development in the book and it prompted me to to think about the way our status is only relevant to those who know and uphold it.

As much as I loved their misunderstanding of Titus it created problems for me. How can a population so advanced have no idea that a giant castle exists just a short boat trip away?

I am intrigued about how Titus Alone will end, but I’m not as excited about picking it up as I was with the first two books.

Are you enjoying Titus Alone?

2 replies on “Gormenghast Read-along: Week 9”

I think you’re quite right that the quick pace makes it harder to form a picture of Titus’s new surroundings. I wondered if Peake had intended to fill in more details later, but his illness kept him from doing so.

Teresa, That is a very good point. Titus Alone is much shorter than the other books so I do wonder how it would have been improved if he’d had the chance to finish it unhindered.

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