Old Dogs, New Tricks

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

Remembering what fun I had reading Titus Groan (and thinking about how many booksketches it produced), I decided that it was time to enjoy the second book in the trilogy. Gormenghast continues immersing the reader into the sprawling titular castle and wonderfully unique characters. At the point of this creating this booksketch, I am halfway into the novel, which continues to chronicle the life of the young 77th Earl of Gormenghast, Titus.

I find it so interesting that these books don't have any real plot. Or, at least none that you can really point out. They are all about exploration. The only thing that remains constant is Steerpike and his desire for more control and power. Such devilish ambition!

In this novel, though, Titus is old enough to go exploring the character of the castle itself. He has this craving to explore both inside and outside it's walls. One point to take note of is how Titus thinks of his title negatively, and feels constrained by his well-monitored heir-to-the-throne life. Everyone else, however, freaks out if he shows any sign of disdain towards his "duty." He's a kid! Let him run around or climb a tree or something.

One rather large focus of the novel is Irma Prunesquallor's soiree. Irma decides to host (along with her brother, the Doctor, whom was previously booksketched) a party where she would invite only bachelors of her choosing. You see, Irma has never, how do we say, has known the love of a man. Or, really, has never flirted or spoken to a man. Besides her brother, of course. And she feels that she is being wasted. That her long, milky neck has been wasted. Or sharp beak-like nose. Etc.

So she convinces her brother (he loves to humor her) to co-host this party. The objective being to find her true love. Whom does she invite? The castle's professors, of course. Scholarly gentlemen, and such.

Except the professors aren't very scholarly, or gentlemanly. A nice portion of the book is dedicated to showing us a dozen or so of the professors and how eccentric and lazy they are. Each one possesses a unique personality and disposition. Leading the pack is the noble and elderly, but not too respected, Headmaster Bellgrove. With his silky white head of hair and perpetual toothache. Keeping up his facade of a dignified noble, has a tendency to turn away or hide his face whenever he feels a smile coming on.

Well, a rumor is started among the professors that Irma is gunning for Bellgrove. Which gets into his head, of course. And before you know it, the two are overdramatically thrown together, and all of this high-school crush stuff starts happening between a 50+ year old lady and a 75+ year old man. It's hilarious.

And that's why I had to draw it.

About the Illustration:

This one was done with Micron pen and Prismacolor pencils.


lucky said...

Love the noses!


raindog said...

so that's what milton berle's been up to. very cool illustration.

Muse said...

Very cool, Burty.

Can I call you "Burty"?

Burt said...

My sister and my girlfriend (not the same person, mind you) both call me "Burty."

I don't see the harm in one more doing so.

Thanks for the comments, you three!