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A World Away , an account of her life with Peake. Anthony Burgess wrote of that book, 'it is impossible not to be moved by Maeve Gilmore's memoir The moral of Gilmore's exquisite and poignant book is that life is hell, but we had better be grateful for the conoslations of love and art. She died in August Our Lists. View all online retailers.

Gormenghast sequel due, completed by Mervyn Peake's widow

Published to tie in with the centenary of Mervyn Peake's birth When Peake died in , he left behind the start of a fourth Gormenghast book, Titus Awakes. Read more. Maeve Gilmore Born in , Maeve Gilmore was a painter, sculptor and writer. Related titles. The Handmaid's Tale.

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The 'lost book’ of Gormenghast is no match for Mervyn Peake’s original

The Trip of a Lifetime. Never properly diagnosed in his lifetime, it seems to have been a variant of Parkinson's disease, which robbed him of the capacity to write and draw.

Titus Awakes is a treasure salvaged from the ruins. It is based on a few fragmentary pages, abandoned by Peake in July , which his devoted wife, Maeve Gilmore, began turning into a book entitled Search Without End two years after Peake's death in Gilmore, a gifted artist in her own right, produced a manuscript that was discovered in an attic by her granddaughter Christian more than a quarter of a century later and more than a decade after Gilmore died in Never meant to be a trilogy, the Gormenghast books would in other circumstances have been a continuing expression of Peake's vision.

That prospect was cut off by his illness, but there were also features inherent in the books that made continuing the series difficult.


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The relations between Gormenghast - the decaying castle in which the first two volumes of the series are set - and the world outside have always been problematic. In keeping with much of the astonishing imagery, the picture of a vast tenement studded with limpet-like inhabitants was undoubtedly a transmuted version of the landscape of Peake's childhood, which was spent in China, where his father was a medical missionary.

But Gormenghast is more isolated than even pre-invasion Tibet, so much so that the location seems entirely self-enclosed. Peake solved that problem in Titus Alone, where the castle's rebellious heir escapes to a world that must have seemed fantastically futuristic when the book was first published in Today, Peake's vision seems presciently accurate: the world in which Titus wanders, where wealth is ghostly and fear of poverty lurks on every corner, where the human detritus of war moulders in camps and life mutates daily under the impact of new technologies, is our own.

The radical discontinuity between this world and that of the castle is obvious, and in Titus Alone Peake repeatedly underscores the contrast. The two worlds have something in common, however - there is no exit from either of them. At the end of the second novel in the sequence, Gormenghast, when Titus is about to leave home, his mother, the Countess Groan, warns him: "There is nowhere else, you will only tread in a circle, Titus Groan.

There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home.

Titus Awakes: The Lost Book of Gormenghast by Maeve Gilmore

For everything comes to Gormenghast. Titus discovers that there is another world out there, but it is a labyrinth, no less impenetrable than the castle he has left behind. Gilmore's solution is quite different. Here, too, Titus wanders through a world that resembles our own, but there is some continuity with the absent world of the castle, signalled by references to his beloved sister Fuchsia and semi-wild foster-sister.

Some of the places are suggested by episodes in Peake's life - an institution where Titus works for a time as an orderly recalls a hospital where Peake was confined for part of his illness.

Ashe Reads: “Titus Groan” by Mervyn Peake

Some of the people Titus encounters are also drawn from life, including an artist who can only be an avatar of Peake. Above all, the protagonist's search has an end. Recounting Titus travelling through sites recalling those of Peake in real life, but in reverse order, Gilmore has Titus reach an island that is unnamed but is plainly Sark, where Peake spent two years before the war and where he returned with Gilmore and his sons, Sebastian and Fabian, after Titus Groan was published. In Gilmore's account, Titus follows Peake in a counterclockwise journey, returning at last to a place of healing and happiness.

The story ends with those words of the countess: "There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead him home.