Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ten of the Best Towers

The Tower of Flints was chosen as one of the The Ten Best Towers in Literature by John Mullan in The Guardian on 22nd May 2010.

'Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake Peake's Gormenghast is dominated by the Tower of Flints. "This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy, arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven. At night the owls made of it an echoing throat; by day it stood voiceless and cast its long shadow." Bad things will happen in it.'

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Etonnant Voyageurs - St Malo, 2010

Both generosity and numerous original ideas for making the guests welcome at the St Malo Book and Film Fair, reached new levels, last weekend, when, together with my youngest daughter, Rose Auriol, I spent three days in the beautiful Breton town. In the cobbled courtyard of the medieval town hall, both the mayor, France's cultural minister and many other dignitaries played host to a large gathering of international writers, publishers and filmmakers. An unending supply of the finest local Cancale oysters were served while bonne bouches were handed round by dinner jacketed waiters despite the searing heat of the day.

Etonnants Voyageurs, roughly, Amazing Travellers, is the largest annual exhibition of its sort in France, and over the three days laid on an almost unbelievable selection of seminars and films from morning to night. Russian film and literature was one of the main attractions this year, while writers from across the globe spoke at concurrent interviews in the many halls and marquees provided.

The Mervyn Peake exhibition, held in the Salle Bouvet was inspired in its layout, with every drawing given enough space in which to give it full attention. The film, dedicated to the life and work of my father and which ran on a loop, was so popular that at no time during the three days was it free of visitors either sitting on the carpeted floor or in the comfortable seats provided by the organisers. Over 50,000 people attended the fair many of whom would have seen his illustrations to Treasure Island or his own Mr Pye and other works for the first time. In two days, every copy of Calmann Levy newly published Alice in French, was sold.

Patrick Gyger, director of the Swiss museum La Maison d'Ailleurs, which put on the impressive Mervyn Peake Lignes de Fuite show at Yverdon-les-Bains last year was also closely involved in the mounting the St Malo exhibition. His flair for organisation and the complicated logistics involved in transporting the work around Europe, was again displayed and for all to see.

A quite magnificent event then, in which attention to detail, French savoir faire and the inherent style of the nationality plus the impressive surroundings in which the events took place made this a venue not to miss in 2011.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Urban Gothic of the Second World War

A newly published book by the highly regarded Sara Wasson of Ediburgh Napier University Literature and Culture department, examines in fascinating detail the role of the Gothic Second World War literature.

Urban Gothic of the Second World War makes frequent references to Mervyn Peake throughout the text, and with reproductions of some of the drawings and several salient extracts from his poems, this engaging publication adds a fresh, academic, but enlightening viewpoint as to how the writer, poet and artist is seen.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Mervyn Peake Awards - Parkinson's UK

Several hundred entries were submitted to this year's Mervyn Peake Awards, including many photographs, paintings and drawings. There were also 165 poems. Seen here making a short list of the winners in each category, at the charity's HQ in London on Election Day, are Fabian Peake and Clare Penate.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Craft of the Lead Pencil

John Howe has long been an admirer of Mervyn Peake and in his latest online newsletter enthuses about this little known book.