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Gormenghast, Gaiman

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  • Melinda Jane Harrison
    Hi to those who replied to Off Topic: (Special thanks to Steve and David) I am reading Titus Groan at the moment, but I bought the edition with all three books
    Message 1 of 9 , Sep 22, 2000
      Hi to those who replied to Off Topic:

      (Special thanks to Steve and David)

      I am reading Titus Groan at the moment, but I bought the edition with all
      three books in one, and those criticisms, etc. I read all the criticisms
      first, and they really give the reader a background on Peake's life, his
      illness, and the shock of what he experienced in WWII. I am a big fan of
      Dunsany and Dickens and read a great deal of 19th century literature so I
      am not bothered by his wordiness. Nothing is more wordy than William
      Faulkner and I read him all the time! <g> There is something...well, how
      shall I describe it...there is _a beauty in the terror_ or is that _a
      terror in the beauty_ of Peak's language? And the story is sort of
      claustrophobic now that I think of it. That's a good word to describe it.
      But it's a nice, cozy wrap for me.

      So far I have found it very inventive; I have never really read anything
      quite like it.

      And well, God is certainly in the details here.

      For amusement, can anyone on the list think of anything written like it
      since? I don't see how I can read this and not be influenced. It's just
      too overwhelming not to come away with some pieces of it stuffed
      permanently in my head .

      On Gaiman's Sandman stuff and the list member's comment---Sandman is what
      made me want to be a writer of Mythopeic fiction. Gaiman's Sandman and
      Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. Now Gormenghast. There is one thread
      between all three. They are definitely Gothic. I just finished Neverwhere,
      I read it through 3 times, the last marking it up. I love this novel.
      Mister Croup and Mister Vandermar are wonderful characters, and there is a
      bit of the _Grotesque_ in them. I see this in both Carter's work and in
      Peake's writing, I guess what some refer to as the Dicken's influence.

      There will be no more work from either Peake or Carter, but we still have
      Gaiman. He's quite inventive himself. I imagine he will be placed right
      up there with Lovecraft, Peake, Carter, Poe, and others before all is said
      and done.

      Jane
    • David S. Bratman
      - we now return you to our regular programming - Jane Harrison asked about more recent books similar to Peake s Gormenghast. I am reminded of a critical
      Message 2 of 9 , Sep 22, 2000
        - we now return you to our regular programming -

        Jane Harrison asked about more recent books similar to Peake's
        Gormenghast. I am reminded of a critical speculation I read recently, on
        what would have happened had Peake, rather than Tolkien, become the
        touchstone author for genre fantasy. Very different than it is today,
        that would be for sure.

        There aren't many books inspired by Gormenghast, but there are some. But
        just as most books obviously inspired by Tolkien are Big Dumb Quest
        Fantasies, most books obviously inspired by Peake are Big Dumb Castle
        Fantasies. Two which have received some critical praise, and aren't
        half-bad IMHO are _Gloriana_ by Michael Moorcock and _The High House_ by
        James Stoddard (with a new sequel, _The False House_).

        But the richness of Peake's prose and the depth of his imagination (as
        with Tolkien's, mutatis mutandis) are less easily imitated, and the best
        way to find something similar is to stay out of genre fantasy altogether,
        and find authors who are not at all imitative but who happened to have
        strayed into a similar territory on their own initiative. Angela Carter
        was a good choice, and helps me triangulate your tastes. Try M. John
        Harrison (_Viriconium Nights_) and Geoff Ryman (_The Unconquered
        Country_). Among older authors, take a look at William Hope Hodgson
        (_The Night Land_): anyone who likes Faulkner should not find him too
        intimidating. Or Clark Ashton Smith for world-rank clotted prose. Few
        if any Big Dumb Castles in these.

        David Bratman
      • David Lenander
        Certainly _Gloriana_ is an obvious choice--in my opinion, far better than half-bad. Moorcock reportedly looked to Peake as his master, attended him at
        Message 3 of 9 , Sep 22, 2000
          Certainly _Gloriana_ is an obvious choice--in my opinion, far better than
          "half-bad." Moorcock reportedly looked to Peake as his master, attended him
          at Peake's death bed, I believe I once read. _Gloriana_ is obviously his
          hommage to Peake, but I think there's Peake influence (and probably Dickens)
          in some of his other works, particularly his masterpiece, "The Dancers at
          the End of Time," beginning with _An Alien Heat_, though a recent omnibus
          volume may be more easily available. Stoddard isn't writing in the same
          league, in my humble opinion.

          Other Big Dumb Castle Fantasies that might owe something to Peake include
          _Little, Big_ by John Crowley (which is anything but Dumb, except perhaps in
          the ending), _Brokedown Palace_, by Steve Brust (perhaps his best book,
          though Brust says he hasn't read Peake--again, not a dumb book), _Moonheart_
          by Charles de Lint (not as good as these others, but I don't think it's
          really "Dumb," either), all of these seeming much better than _The High
          House_ to me. (I did enjoy _The High House_, by the way). I think there's
          some possible Peake influence in Caroline Stevermer's first fantasy novel,
          _The Serpent's Egg_. Good luck finding it, though. Which leads in a
          roundabout way to novels by Delia Sherman (_The Porcelain Dove_), Ellen
          Kushner (_Swordspoint_), and P.C. Hodgell, (_God Stalk_ & sequels). Angela
          Carter might also be an influence on Sherman, for that matter. These are
          all well-worth reading, by the way. You might also look at Gene Wolfe's
          _Castleview_, _The Fifth Head of Cerberus_, and especially "The Book of the
          New Sun," which is interminably long in my opinion, but which opens with an
          hommage to Dickens, which is probably the real source of the Peake-feel to
          the characters and some of the setting.

          "David S. Bratman" wrote:

          > There aren't many books inspired by Gormenghast, but there are some. But
          > just as most books obviously inspired by Tolkien are Big Dumb Quest
          > Fantasies, most books obviously inspired by Peake are Big Dumb Castle
          > Fantasies. Two which have received some critical praise, and aren't
          > half-bad IMHO are _Gloriana_ by Michael Moorcock and _The High House_ by
          > James Stoddard (with a new sequel, _The False House_).
          >

          David Lenander,

          e-mail: d-lena@... web-page:
          http://www.tc.umn.edu/~d-lena/Stevermer%20page.html
        • David S. Bratman
          - we now return you to our regular programming - Re David Lenander s response - I did not mean to imply that Moorcock s and Stoddard s were the only decent Big
          Message 4 of 9 , Sep 22, 2000
            - we now return you to our regular programming -

            Re David Lenander's response -

            I did not mean to imply that Moorcock's and Stoddard's were the only
            decent Big Dumb Castle Fantasies, and I did say "_not_ half bad."

            But most of the other books that DL mentions, especially _Little, Big_
            and _Moonheart_, are not Big Dumb Castle Fantasies at all, any more than
            any book with a journey in it is a Big Dumb Quest Fantasy. Yeah, they've
            got complex buildings in them, but they don't resemble Gormenghast,
            either intentionally or otherwise, the way Moorcock and Stoddard do. (I
            wish I could speak to the Brust, but I haven't read it.)

            Had I thought Jane was looking for books that resembled Peake in
            featuring complex buildings, I could have said much more. But it seemed
            clear to me that what she wanted was books that resembled Peake in their
            tone and writing style. So I tossed off the castle aspect in a quick
            paragraph, and then got to the stuff I thought would really interest
            her. She might well like some of the books you recommend - some of them
            are indeed good books - but not specifically because she likes Peake.

            I remember, as a baby Tolkien reader, having the early Deryni books of
            Katherine Kurtz boosted upon me. "Hey, they've got a medieval setting,
            maps, kings, magic, and genealogical charts! What more do you want?"
            Well, no. It is that type of recommendation reasoning I'm trying to avoid
            here.

            David Bratman
          • David Lenander
            Yes, but I would argue that, in fact, there is Peake influence in most of these books, not only in the big, dumb or smart buildings, but in the characters and
            Message 5 of 9 , Sep 22, 2000
              Yes, but I would argue that, in fact, there is Peake influence in most of
              these books, not only in the big, dumb or smart buildings, but in the
              characters and characterization, as well as in some themes. I'll grant you
              that influence of Peake's style is less clearly present in most of these
              (imagine what that might be like--some of you may shudder, and perhaps not
              with that pleasurable frisson associated with gothic and horror fiction), but
              the gothicism Jane likes in other writers like Angela Carter may have its
              analogues in some of these writers.

              Incidentally, everyone always talks about _The Bloody Chamber_, which is
              definitely a book worth seeking out, but there are also some terrific
              fantasies in Carter's _Fireworks_.

              "David S. Bratman" wrote:

              > But it seemed clear to me that what she wanted was books that resembled
              > Peake in their
              > tone and writing style.
              >

              --

              David Lenander, Library Manager I

              University of Minnesota Bio-Medical Library Access Services

              Diehl Hall / 505 Essex SE, / Mpls., MN 55455

              Phone: work: (612)626-3375 fax: (612)626-2454 home: (651)292-8887

              e-mail: d-lena@... web-page: http://umn.edu/~d-lena/OnceUponATime.html
            • David S. Bratman
              - we now return you to our regular programming - ... Well, maybe. But in Moorcock s _Gloriana_ - an openly avowed homage to Peake by a talented author who
              Message 6 of 9 , Sep 22, 2000
                - we now return you to our regular programming -

                On Fri, 22 Sep 2000, David Lenander wrote:

                > Yes, but I would argue that, in fact, there is Peake influence in most of
                > these books, not only in the big, dumb or smart buildings, but in the
                > characters and characterization, as well as in some themes.

                Well, maybe. But in Moorcock's _Gloriana_ - an openly avowed homage to
                Peake by a talented author who knew and revered him - I find nothing
                whatever Peakean except some obvious surface tropes. One would be better
                off noting the Tolkien influence in Narnia.

                The influence in other, less closely connected, books is correspondingly
                even thinner; so for real resemblance one must turn to accidental
                resemblance in deeper things, which is what I did.

                David Bratman
              • WendellWag@aol.com
                One thing that struck me as similar to the Gormenghast books was Mary Gentle s White Crow series (_Rats and Gargoyles_, _The Architecture of Desire_, the story
                Message 7 of 9 , Sep 22, 2000
                  One thing that struck me as similar to the Gormenghast books was Mary
                  Gentle's White Crow series (_Rats and Gargoyles_, _The Architecture of
                  Desire_, the story "Left to His Own Devices" in her collection of that name,
                  and "Beggars in Satin" and "The Knot Garden" in her collection _Scholars and
                  Soldiers_). However, I should note that I've only read a little bit of one
                  of the novels, so I may be mistaken about this.

                  Wendell Wagner
                • Berni Phillips
                  ... From: David S. Bratman To: Sent: Friday, September 22, 2000 10:56 AM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Gormenghast,
                  Message 8 of 9 , Sep 22, 2000
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>
                    To: <mythsoc@egroups.com>
                    Sent: Friday, September 22, 2000 10:56 AM
                    Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Gormenghast, Gaiman

                    > Jane Harrison asked about more recent books similar to Peake's
                    > Gormenghast.

                    Another book which is similar in that it has very rich prose is Greer
                    Gilman's _Moonwise_.

                    Berni
                  • LSolarion@aol.com
                    In a message dated 09/22/2000 11:02:27 AM Pacific Daylight Time, dbratman@genie.idt.net writes:
                    Message 9 of 9 , Oct 7, 2000
                      In a message dated 09/22/2000 11:02:27 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
                      dbratman@... writes:

                      << Try M. John
                      Harrison (_Viriconium Nights_) and Geoff Ryman (_The Unconquered
                      Country_). Among older authors, take a look at William Hope Hodgson
                      (_The Night Land_): anyone who likes Faulkner should not find him too
                      intimidating. Or Clark Ashton Smith for world-rank clotted prose. Few
                      if any Big Dumb Castles in these. >>

                      Try also David Lindsay's "Voyage to Arcturus," which Lewis admired as
                      literature as much as he deplored it as philosophy. It can often be found in
                      used bookstores in the Adult Fantasy Series paperback; I don't know whether
                      it is in print, but I doubt it.
                      Steve
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