Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Things Underlined So Far in "Gormenghast"



I picked up a copy while visiting Scrap Princess...

a python! Even at that ghastly and critical moment I could see what a beautiful thing it was. Far more beautiful than my old brute of a mule. But did it enter my head that I should transfer my allegiance to the reptile? No. 
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the darkness that lay beyond took him, as it were, to herself, muffling the edges of his sharp body.
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(re: a bunch of cats) so close upon each other's tails that they might have been a continuous entity, her ladyship's white clowder
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For a moment she stared about her ruminatively. The cats, with not a whisker moving, were everywhere in the room. The mantelpiece was heraldic with them. The table was a solid block of whiteness. The couch was a snowdrift. The carpet was sewn with eyes.
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I was among mountains. Huge tufted things. Full of character; but no charm. I was alone with my faithful mule. We were lost. A meteor flew overhead. What use was that to us? No use at all. It merely irritated us. 
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No one reads his poems, but he holds a remote status – a gentleman, as it were, by rumour.
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yet sullen as her mother and as incalculable...Fuchsia tosses her black flag of hair, bites at her childish underlip, scowls, laughs, broods, is tender, is intemperate, suspicious and credulous all in a day.
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Do things without any mention – like getting tea, for instance, and laying it quietly before me.' 'All right,' answered Clarice, rather sullenly.
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and stroked the sleek ears of the goat
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There was something lewd in the way the wax-coloured petal of his eyelid dropped suggestively over his bright eye and lifted itself again without a flutter.
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is as naked and blatant as a pig in a cathedral.
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They made no effort to bear out the promise of the other features, which would have formed the ideal setting for the kind of eye that flashes with visionary fire.
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...less like a man than a ravaged suckling
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Must I what? Explain yourself, dear boy. If there's anything I abominate it's sentences of two words.
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His skin stretched so tightly...that the freckles were twice the size they would normally have been.
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At The Fly's prod he did not wake with a start, as is the normal thing: that would have been tantamount to a kind of interest in life. He merely opened one eye. 
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His voice floated out of his soft head like a paper streamer.
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It was in Bellgrove’s class, one late afternoon, that Titus first thought consciously about the idea of colour: of things having colours: of everything having its own particular colour, and of the way in which every particular colour kept changing according to where it was, what the light was like, and what it was next to.

Bellgrove was half asleep, and so were most of the boys. The room was hot and full of golden motes. A great clock ticked away monotonously. A bluebottle buzzed slowly over the surfaces of the hot window-panes or from time to time zithered its languid way from desk to desk. Every time it passed certain desks, small inky hands would grab at it, or rulers would smack out through the tired air. Sometimes it would perch, for a moment, on an inkpot or on the back of a boy’s collar and scythe its front legs together, and then its back legs, rubbing them, scything them, honing them, or as though it were a lady dressing for a ball drawing on a pair of long, invisible gloves.

Oh, bluebottle, you would fare ill at a ball! There would be none who could dance better than you; but you would be shunned: you would be too originaclass="underline" you would be before your time. They would not know your steps, the other ladies. None would throw out that indigo light from brow or flank – but, bluebottle, they wouldn’t want to. There lies the agony. Their buzz of converse is not yours, bluebottle. You know no scandal, no small talk, no flattery, no jargon: you would be hopeless, for all that you can pull the long gloves on. After all, your splendour is a kind of horror-splendour. Keep to your inkpots and the hot glass panes of schoolrooms and buzz your way through the long summer terms. Let the great clock-ticks play counterpoint. Let the swish of a birch, the detonation of a paper pellet, the whispered conspiracy be your everlasting pards.

Down generations of boys, buzz, bluebottle, buzz in the summer prisons – for the boys are bored. Tick, clock, tick! Young Scarabee’s on edge to fight the ‘Slogger’ – young Dogseye hankers for his silkworms’ weaving – Jupiter minor knows a plover’s nest. Tick, clock, tick!

Sixty seconds in a minute; sixty minutes in an hour; sixty times sixty.

Multiply the sixes and add how many noughts? Two. I suppose. Six sixes are thirty-six. Thirty-six and two noughts is 3,600. Three thousand and six hundred seconds in an hour. Quarter of an hour is left before the silkworms – before the ‘Slogger’ – before the plover’s nest. Buzz-fly, buzz! Tick, clock, tick! Divide 3,600 by four and then subtract a bit because of the time taken to work it all out.

Nine hundred seconds! Oh, marvellous! marvellous! Seconds are so small. One – two – three – four – seconds are so huge.

The inky fingers scrubble through the forelock – the blackboard is a grey smear. The last three lessons can be seen faintly one behind the other – like aerial perspective. A fog of forgotten figures – forgotten maps – forgotten languages.

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9 comments:

Jonathan Newell said...

Incredibly pedantic and inconsequential nitpick: you misspelled "Gormenghast."

Zak Sabbath said...

thanx, fixt

scrap princess said...

it's almost a meta thing in that every sentence in the book is as ornate yet rank as the castle is

Shawn Kilburn said...

An amazing book. Talk about a megadungeon!

JDsivraj said...

It is an amazing work about identity, place, and tradition. The lurid and cluttered detail bring that huge ruined pile into staggering mournful life.

It is full of lessons in description that would definetly serve any RPG GM well.

Zak Sabbath said...

and sorry for the mistake

Luka Rejec said...

Many years ago I tried to read that pile. Like Gravity's Rainbow, it became a brick. Unread. A weight to lug from home to home until donation took it away, perhaps to a more willing reader.

Maybe I should try it again someday. I do like the sentences.

Revenant said...

I never cared for it as a story, but the tone and setting are great. I've been ripping off bits of it for D&D, CoC and Kult games for decades now.

John said...

I couldn't dig Gravity's Rainbow, but the Titus Groan books went down like milk. Strokes and floats and boats and whatnot.