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5552Re: Re: [mythsoc] Why the middle ages are so popular in fiction

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  • David S. Bratman
    Mar 9, 2002
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      Alexei -

      You are quite right that Peake's trilogy has a decayed-future setting. But
      that is not at all contradictory to my point that Gormenghast (by which I
      meant the castle, not the "trilogy") is inspired by "a riot of differing
      times, [centering] somewhere around the 17th century." Your point is one
      I've often made myself; today I was making a different point.

      Many readers of _Titus Alone_ see its science-fictional future setting as
      something of an inexplicable shock, after the musty old castle that
      completely dominated two large books. They excuse the book by explaining
      that Peake was ill when he wrote it. He was ill, to be sure, and yes the
      book is flawed thereby, but the basic conception that bothers these readers
      is exactly what the author intended.

      The very mustiness of the castle and the fossilization of its rituals are
      evidence that Gormenghast is an atavism, that it has long survived out of
      its proper time. So, to an extent, is the riotous mixture of different
      times. The question I was addressing is, what is the "proper time" that it
      has long survived out of?

      And the point I was making was that the time period evoked by the style of
      Gormenghast, never mind when it's supposedly actually set, was early-modern
      and not medieval.

      In this discussion, on why the Middle Ages are so popular in fantasy, we
      have been discussing stories which are inspired by or evoke the Middle
      Ages, whether or not they're actually set in Western Europe during the
      6th-15th centuries A.D. LotR isn't set in that time period, for instance:
      it's set in an imaginary pre-Christian age forgotten by conventional
      history. But it feels largely medieval, certainly not prehistoric.

      And similarly, regardless of when Gormenghast is nominally set, we can
      discuss what time period it was inspired by or evokes.


      David Bratman


      At 10:26 AM 3/9/2002 , Alexei wrote:

      >In a message dated 3/8/2 7:40:57 PM, David Bratman wrote:
      >
      ><<Peake's Gormenghast is deliberately a riot of
      >differing times, but its center appears to be somewhere around the 17th
      >century.>>
      >
      >My impression has always been that Gormenghast is set in a far-off,
      >post-industrial future, where the disappearance of technological amenities
      >has given culture an Early Modern "look". I think this is confirmed in _Titus
      >Alone_, where we are shown the world outside Gormenghast, and it definitely
      >looks more like a decayed version of our modern world (complete with
      >lingering bits of advanced technology) than any past period of history.
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