Re: Peake and Steerpike
- I only read 3/4 of the first book (I like Gothic, but I happened to
believe there's more to Gothic than just the gargoyles. Gormenghast
is just about the gargoyles ;) so I'm not a good judge. But my
feelings were about the same as yours, I admired Steerpike, sort of
liked Titus & some of the other characters (including that trusty-
Crhistopher-Lee-in-the-miniseries ;), but really couldn't imagine
imagine any of them as plausible heroes except Steerpike.
The trouble is (& this may be the point Peake is trying to make) is
that there wasn't any compelling reason to perceive Steerpike as a
proper villain. Just an underdog doing mildly distasteful political
things to get to the top of a mildly distasteful pecking order...
--- In email@example.com, Melinda Jane Harrison <jharrison3@m...>
> Hello All!these
> I just finished the books. And well, I shall probably think about
> novels for a long time. I am going to say something and I feelcertain
> that no one will probably agree with me, but Steerpike is the truehero of
> these stories, in my most humble opinion. Flaws, murder, his owndeath and
> all. Titus is really impotent, as is all of Gormenghast and itsinhabitants.
> I often wonder now, after reading it, if Peake, after his
> War and his thoughts on his times, if subconsciously he was writingabout a
> hero who was going to throw over the old order of the world---Gormenghast
> being our world of capitalism, war, etc. and that Steerpike usedthose very
> tools, in a modest <g> sort of personal way to throw out the orderof
> Gormenghast. Even the new earl leaves at the end, but to what endI don't
> know or can imagine, since "there is nothing new out there." <G>reminded
> But then again.......
> I may be totally wrong. But that's how I see it now. Steerpike
> me of Hamlet in some ways. Not Titus. I actually got where I likedin some
> Steerpike and understood him. Of course that's a dangerous thought
> respects. No matter how I tried, I could not see Titus as theheroic figure.
> He was a baby, then a child, then not much more than that. He wasalways a
> child and acted upon.etc. it
> And when he did act, say when it was about his love for The Thing,
> reminded me of an impotent boy. And quite honestly, I don't knowif he
> would have ever ACTED and left if it had not been for Steerpike'sactions.
> So who is the real hero? And who won?
> Of course, Peake was planning more novels, but I think readers
> been disappointed in many ways. Gormenghast was the center. Thethird,
> well, I discount it. Peake was ill and hardly able to write. Whathe
> began centered around Gormenghast and around Steerpike. I don't<G>
> know...it's disturbing in some ways. And I am disturbed by it.
- On Wed, 4 Oct 2000, Melinda Jane Harrison wrote:
> I just finished the books. And well, I shall probably think about theseSteerpike is certainly a more active protagonist than Titus is, but
> novels for a long time. I am going to say something and I feel certain
> that no one will probably agree with me, but Steerpike is the true hero of
> these stories, in my most humble opinion. Flaws, murder, his own death and
> all. Titus is really impotent, as is all of Gormenghast and its inhabitants.
whether Steerpike can be called the hero depends at least in part on what
you think the word "hero" means. Would "anti-hero" be applicable, perhaps?
And Titus realizes his impotency and that of Gormenghast. That's why he
leaves. It's he, more than Steerpike, who understands this: Steerpike
wishes to control Gormenghast, which implies it's something worth
controlling, and it is the castle's vast inertia which, in the end,
defeats him. (This is insofar as Steerpike has a plan: a totally
subjective madness is also part of him from the beginning.)
> Of course, Peake was planning more novels, but I think readers would haveYou can't dismiss _Titus Alone_ by the author's illness. Its basic
> been disappointed in many ways. Gormenghast was the center. The third,
> well, I discount it. Peake was ill and hardly able to write. What he
> began centered around Gormenghast and around Steerpike. I don't
> know...it's disturbing in some ways. And I am disturbed by it. <G>
thrust and plan were determined before he became incapacitated, and most
of the writing was done before then too. If it's "disappointing" (I
prefer the term "disillusioning" for the attitude it implies towards
Gormenghast) it was meant to be. The existence of _Titus Alone_ it
itself a criticism of the castle, one along the same lines as your own
criticism. Nobody in _Titus Alone_ really believes Titus's story, and by
the end he has almost come to disbelieve it himself: thus the ending of
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