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


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