Monday, May 30, 2011

The Illustrated Gormenghast, anticipation from Vintage

These highly enthusiastic words from the sales division of Vintage Books should auger well for The Illustrated Gormenghast, the new Random House edition which is due for publication in July.


"If I was to choose one title that has enthused all of my buyers from the CCV list this month it would have to be The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy! I didn’t realise that so many of my buyers were huge Mervyn Peake fans, they have been so thrilled personally to see this edition been published, I have absolutely no doubt that this book will have huge numbers of Staff Recommendations once published, a real booksellers book!"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The History of Titus Groan

Brian Sibley's radio adaptation of the four Titus books (including Maeve Gilmore's Titus Awakes) is now going into production. I understand that there is a carefully-chosen team of well-known actors but unfortunately we can't yet tell you who they are. More here, on Brian's blog.

And more on the broadcasting dates on our 'Centenary Events'.

Mervyn Peake's character studies of the main characters (above) might just prove useful as inspiration.

Alison Eldred

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery

The exhibition currently showing at the Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery until September 11th and titled Mervyn Peake's Sark - To the Sweep of a Steel Bay is an outstanding example of how the artist and writer's work can be displayed in all its glory in a relatively small space. The designer, curator and director of the gallery have given the local public and visitors to the island, a genuinely beautiful mix of water colours, pencil and oil paintings, within the octagonal gallery. So impressed was Credit Suisse on viewing the work before the show opened that they decided to contribute substantially, thus the presentation of the work graphics and tastefully-produced bench seating, has made this lovely exhibition something not to miss.

Visitor numbers are already above expectations, and two more oil paintings by Mervyn Peake on loan from their owners will be collected shortly from neighbouring Sark and will be added. The colour introduction to the show, provided by Credit Suisse's inspired largesse, in the form of a four part high-quality folding card, is so attractive that it is certainly likely to be kept by any visitor to this terrific show.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Guardian, 7th May 2011

How apt, that the excellent review by Ursula le Guin of China Mieville's latest novel, Embassytown, should appear in The Guardian yesterday. In the same paper, Sue Arnold's “Choice” of audio releases describes the new abridged edition of Titus Groan as “a veritable tour de force”. It's refreshing to find a reviewer who's new to the Titus Books and having listened to the first is itching for the next. Could this represent a whole new readership for these books? Always considered to be timeless and even ahead of their time, perhaps this is the case.

The relevance of the review of China's book in the same edition of the paper should be explained. He has written the introduction to the new illustrated edition of the Titus Books. Eloquent and passionate, there could not have been a better choice of writer. As you can tell from this small extract:

'Asserting the specificity of a part, he better takes as given the whole - of which, of course, we are in awe. This faux matter-of-fact method makes Gormenghast, its Hall of Bright Carvings, its Tower of Flints, its roofscapes, ivy-shaggy walls, its muddy environs and hellish kitchens so much more present and real than if it had been breathlessly explained. From this start, Peake acts as if the totality of his invented place could not be in dispute. The dislocation and fascination we feel, the intoxication, is testimony to the success of his simple certainty. Our wonder is not disbelief but belief, culture-shock at this vast strange place. We submit to this reality, that the book asserts even as it purports not to. Of course Gormenghast is.'

More on on the unabridged audio version of Titus Groan here, and an interview with Rupert Degas.

And Gormenghast here.

Alison Eldred

Mervyn Peake and Maeve Gilmore - An exhibition of paintings and drawings

Opening on 9th July, Mervyn Peake's actual birthday, will be an exhibition of work by both him and his widow Maeve Gilmore. A wide range of paintings and drawings by both artists will be on show at Viktor Wynd Fine Art, 11 Mare Street, London E8 4RP For further details please call 020 7998 3617.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Blue Elephant Theatre

A significant contribution to the centenary year was made by the Blue Elephant Theatre in south east London. With three evenings devoted to Mervyn Peake's plays and poems, they came up with rehearsed readings of two of the plays; Mr Loftus and Noah's Ark and a particularly moving evening devoted to some of the poems.

There were many readings (of the poems) that held the attention of the packed house, but one or two had about them that extra quality which emanates from a true understanding and sympathy with the words. Two such were Rhondda Valley and To Live at all is Miracle Enough whose homage to the Welsh miner in the former, and fundamental wisdom in the philosophical observation of the latter, reduced some members of the audience to tears. The theatre is to be congratulated on it's marvellous work in bringing to the public's attention two lesser-known areas from the multi-talented writer and artist's life.

The theatre let it be known at the end of the very successful mini-season, that they would be very interested in taking to full production, either the plays, the poems or both. Perhaps if any fan of the work reading this, who just happens to run a theatre and would like to stage either, would step forward, I'm sure the Blue Elephant Theatre would be delighted.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Ten Best Castles

A second mention of Mervyn Peake's world in one week in The Guardian, sees Gormenghast Castle as the one 'to beat all others', according to the John Mullan.