Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Voice of the Heart

Peter Winnington's new book on 'the working of Mervyn Peake's imagination', as he subtitles The Voice of the Heart, is a very welcome and highly illuminating addition to an ever-growing biographical canon. Instead of repeating the known facts; birth and early years in China, artistic prodigy, an illustrator to classic texts, writer of the Titus trilogy etc, Winnington elects to examine themes from Peake's life as disparate as islands, animals and birds, solitude, love and evil.

In the most perceptive and gently probing of ways he eloquently deconstructs these and other areas in which the artist worked, in such a way that rather than dry academic analysis or clear-headed intellectual rationalism, a tone which would have completely misjudged the nature of the subject, the reader is guided by an expert to both the heart of the matter, and the heart of the man.

And to the heart of the artist and the sensitivity which motivated his work. Winnington grasps completely the idiosyncratic open individualism and generosity of spirit which produced the work, such that interpretations which have sometimes disrupted fixed personal views, here do the opposite.

The eclecticism is examined not as though presenting yet another trick up the sleeve of a man blessed, or possibly encumbered, by more than his fair share of talent, but rather from the point of view of a partisan but objective admirer who nevertheless wants answers to that which is essentially unanswerable. Who was he? Winnington asks. Where did his roots lie, what made him what he was? To a great extent we are given the answers in this first real look at the total oeuvre.

Comprehensively illustrated with work germane to the chapters, Winnington's critical monograph is required reading for those interested in knowing more about the subject, and in this handsome Liverpool University Press publication they will certainly have a chance to do just that.

Cover image: A sketch from the manuscript of Mr Pye by Mervyn Peake

ISBN 1-84631-030-X

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Titus Groan, the Danish edition

I have just received author's copies of the Danish translation of Titus Groan. It is one of the very best foreign editions I've ever seen and has a drawing of Steerpike on the cover. The paper is of very good quality and the whole appearance looks fabulous.

Writing in Weekendavisen, Bo Green, a noted translator himself, described the way Arne Keller had translated the novel, as having been 'executed fabulously'.

Jyllandsposten, one of Denmark's major daily newspapers wrote: 'This is in every way a fantastic, wildly original and moving this instance there is no reason to complain about the Danish retail price, the experience is worth every penny'.

Information a serious Copenhagen newspaper wrote: 'Titus Groan is an evocative and entertaining epic tale which is hard to put down.'

The Ancient Mariner Exhibition

'An evocative banner placed on a wall outside the Jerrold Centre, Dove Cottage, Cumbria, where the Ancient Mariner exhibition will run until July this year.

An outstanding show which features apart from the haunting illustrations of the poem by Mervyn Peake many other famous interpretations of Coleridge's great epic, including Gustave Dore, Patrick Proctor and others.

David Glass Ensemble Gormenghast Production

We can now confirm the dates for David Glass's 2007 spring tour. As follows:

Battersea Arts Centre, London, 27th March to 15th April (no performances 6th to 9th April)

Northernstage, Newcastle, 18th to 21st April

Capitol, Horsham, 24th to 25th April

Playhouse, Liverpool, 8th to 12th May

'Mervyn Peake's fantastical world comes to life through the inventive visuals and spectacular
imagination that won David Glass the TMA Award for Best Director' - Press report.

'If you enjoyed the BBC adaptation of Gormenghast you will love this theatrical presentation of Gormenghast. The production is a gloriously impossible realisation of Mervyn Peake's soaring flight of fancy' The Guardian