Quotes from Gormenghast

Mervyn Peake ·  505 pages

Rating: (10.4K votes)

“She had shown him by her independence how it was only fear that held people together. The fear of being alone and the fear of being different.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“He is climbing the spiral staircase of the soul of Gormenghast, bound for some pinnacle of the itching fancy - some wild, invulnerable eyrie best known to himself; where he can watch the world spread out below him, and shake exultantly his clotted wings.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“She had expressed herself, as women will, in a smug broadside of pastel shades. Nothing clashed because nothing had the strength to clash; everything murmured of safety among the hues; all was refinement.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“There was a library and it is ashes. Let its long length assemble. Than its stone walls its paper walls are thicker; armoured with learning, with philosophy, with poetry that drifts or dances clamped though it is in midnight. Shielded with flax and calfskin and a cold weight of ink, there broods the ghost of Sepulchrave, the melancholy Earl, seventy-sixth lord of half-light.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“Noon, ripe as thunder and silent as thought, had fled unfingered.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“He knew that he was caught up in one of those stretches of time when for anything to happen normally would be abnormal. The dawn was too tense and highly charged for any common happening to survive.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“Indeed he had worn that piece of furniture - or symbol of bone-laziness - into such a shape as made the descent of any other body than his own into that crater of undulating horsehair a hazardous enterprise.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“And then he began to laugh in a peculiar way of his own which was both violent and soundless. His heavy reclining body, draped in its black gown, heaved to and fro. His knees drew themselves up to his chin. His arms dangled over the sides of the chair and were helpless. His head rolled from side to side. It was as though he were in the last stages of strychnine poisoning. But no sound came, nor did his mouth even open. Gradually the spasm grew weaker, and when the natural sand colour of his face had returned (for his corked-up laughter had turned it dark red) he began his smoking again in earnest.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“How merciful a thing is man's ignorance of his immediate future! What a ghastly, paralysing thing it would have been if all those present could have known what was about to happen within a matter of seconds! For nothing short of pre-knowledge could have stopped the occurrence, so suddenly it sprang upon them.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“To say that the frozen silence contracted itself into a yet higher globe of ice were to under-rate the exquisite tension and to shroud it in words. The atmosphere had become a physical sensation. As when, before a masterpiece, the acid throat contracts, and words are millstones, so when the supernaturally outlandish happens and a masterpiece is launched through the medium of human gesture, then all human volition is withered at the source and the heart of action stops beating.
Such a moment was this. Irma, a stalagmite of crimson stone, knew, for all the riot of her veins that a page had turned over. At chapter forty? O no! At chapter one, for she had never lived before save in a pulseless preface.
How long did they remain thus? How many times had the earth moved round the sun? How many times had the great blue whales of the northern waters risen to spurt their fountains at the sky? How many reed-bucks had fallen to the claws of how many leopards, while that sublime unit of two-figure statuary remained motionless? It is fruitless to ask. The clocks of the world stood still or should have done.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“Meanwhile Bellgrove had been savouring love's rare aperitif, the ageless language of the eyes.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“He had emptied the bright goblet of romance; at a single gulp he had emptied it. The glass of it lay scattered on the floor.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“His mother stood before him like a monument. He saw her great outline through the blur of his weakness and his passion. She made no movement at all.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“It was as though Cutflower was so glad to be alive that he never lived. Every moment was vivid, a coloured thing, a trill or a crackle of words in the air. Who could imagine, while Cutflower was around, that there were such vulgar monsters as death, birth, love, art and pain around the corner? It was too embarrassing to contemplate. If Cutflower knew of them he kept it secret. Over their gaping and sepulchral deeps he skimmed now here, now there, in his private canoe, changing his course with a flick of his paddle when death's black whale, or the red squid of passion, lifted for a moment its body from the brine.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“So limp of brain that for them to conceive an idea is to risk a haemorrhage. So limp of body that their purple dresses appear no more indicative of housing nerves and sinews than when they hang suspended from their hooks.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“But his mind saw nothing of all this. His mind was engaged in a warfare of the gods. His mind paced outwards over no-man's-land, over the fields of the slain, paced to the rhythm of the blood's red bugles. To be alone and evil! To be a god at bay. What was more absolute?”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“Il castello era silenzioso come un mostro impalato.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“For what is more lovable than failure?”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“His staff had shaken hands with her as though a woman was merely another kind of man. Fools! The seeds of Eve were in this radiant creature. The lullabyes of half a million years throbbed in her throat. Had they no sense of wonder, no reverence, no pride?”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“The castle was round and about them, widespread and as unchartable as a dark day.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“Hold fast
To the law
Of the last
Cold tome,
Where the earth
Of the truth
Lies thick
On the page,
And the loam
Of faith
In the ink
Long fled
From the drone
Of the nib
Flows on
Through the breath
Of the bone
In a dawn
Of doom
Where blooms
The rose
For the winds
The child
For the tomb
The thrush
For the hush
Of song,
The corn
For the scythe
And the thorn
In wait
For the heart
Till the last
Of the first
And the least
Of the past
Is dust
And the dust
Is lost.
Hold fast!”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“By the piss of Satan, pug, your sauce is dangerous!”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“He watched her almost with indifference -for it was all in the past-and even the present was nothing to the pride of his memory.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“He ran because his decision had been made. It had been made for him by the convergence of half-forgotten motives, of desires and reasons, of varied yet congruous impulses. And the convergence of all these to a focus point of action.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

“Forse non siete a conoscenza, ma vostra madre aveva il sangue cattivo. Molto cattivo. Oppure sognate degli ermellini.”
― Mervyn Peake, quote from Gormenghast

About the author

Mervyn Peake
Born place: in Kuling, Jiangxi, China
Born date July 9, 1911
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