old dreams of gormenghast

We are watching the BBC miniseries Gormenghast, which is especially lovely for me as the last time I watched it was in the quiet night hours after my baby was tucked in her cot.

I came across Titus Groan (the first book in the Gormenghast series) as a teenager with a mere public school education. After a chapter or two, overcome with the magnificence of it, I knew I needed to put it aside, go away, and get myself some proper learning. Years later, with a literature degree under my belt, and Cocteau Twins in my record collection, I picked up the book again and was not only able to appreciate it, as I had before, but really understand it too.

As a writer, I believe I have one masterwork (relatively speaking) within my creative heart, and it's a Gormenghastly. It has been researched, a quarter written, lost, researched some more, written a little more, folded away, dreamed about, and promised for one of these days when (if) I am finally capable of doing it justice. My writing style has changed completely since I wrote the initial draft, and I may no longer have the appropriate voice for it. But I have been reminded today of the achingly old loneliness of the mountain fastness, which has haunted me for ever - long before I ever read about Gormenghast - as if the experience of the book was so profound for me, it echoed down through my life, my childhood, like a whisper of what was to come.

Reading Gormenghast inspired me to get a thorough education so I could comprehend it. Wanting to create my own homage to it has inspired me for years to become a better writer so I can achieve it. Now that's what I call a great book.

photo credit.


  1. I can't believe I've never been exposed to that?! Or if I did read it, my memories of 40 years ago are blurring. Yay for interlibrary loans, I just ordered a +1000 page brick to help me get through my currently laid back existence. :)

    1. It's a gnarly read, but if you happen to like Dickens you will love it. A great book for artists too, because it's so visual. Peake himself was an artist and describes everything with an amazing depth of vision.

    2. I do love books that fill my head with paintings....

  2. how wonderful that you found such inspiration.
    thank you for sharing it as i had never heard of it.

  3. it IS an amazing book. i enjoyed the BBC version too...i think it's time for a re-visit! thank you for the reminder.