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Re: [mythsoc] Peake and Steerpike

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  • David S. Bratman
    ... Steerpike is certainly a more active protagonist than Titus is, but whether Steerpike can be called the hero depends at least in part on what you think the
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 7, 2000
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      On Wed, 4 Oct 2000, Melinda Jane Harrison wrote:

      > I just finished the books. And well, I shall probably think about these
      > 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.

      Steerpike is certainly a more active protagonist than Titus is, but
      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 have
      > 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>

      You can't dismiss _Titus Alone_ by the author's illness. Its basic
      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
      the book.

      David Bratman
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