This study traces Mervyn Peake's evolution from aesthetically Gothic writer to socially aware Dark Romantic through an investigation of his theme of the relativity of perception. Its contents include an in-depth analysis of the metamorphic fluidity of identity revealed in Titus Groan (1946), Gormenghast (1950) and Titus Alone (1959;1970), with a detailed examination of the latter's prepublication sources and its links with Holocaust literature and dystopian science fiction. This close reading of the Titus novels, places Peake firmly in the postmodernist tradition.
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«...hers is quite the most thorough study to date of Peake's »dark romanticism« and the only one to come to grips with the problems of the text of 'Titus Alone'. Both these aspects recommend it to scholars of romance and fantasy fiction.» (G. Peter Winnington, Université de Lausanne)
«In her thorough and resourceful study of the »Gormenghast« trilogy, Dr. Gardiner-Scott assesses through a close reading the individuality of each of the books, its function in the larger narrative context, and its significance for Peake's artistic development. Her conclusions are convincingly based on a large range of sources that includes interviews and prepublication material. This scholarly but vividly-written account ably places the trilogy in relation both to Gothic and the novel generally, and to Peake's increasing sensitivity to the black revelations of his own time.» (Jay MacPherson, University of Toronto)
«This book will be essential reading for anyone who wishes to study Peake from now on. Gardiner-Scott makes a strong case for the stature and importance of Peake as a writer who stands in the tradition of writers of mythic consciousness, in the great romantic tradition of Blake and in the Romance tradition of Spenser, Malory, and the Gawain-poet. Her book is itself a study of mythic consciousness in the tradition of Northrop Frye and Jay MacPherson. Gardiner-Scott brings to this study not only her diligence and care, but also a keen eye for the currents of literary history.» (John Burt, Brandeis University)
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