The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy

Michael Wood writes:

We inhabit Gormenghast the way we live in certain kinds of daydream or sustained fiction, like the stories we used to tell ourselves about the ceiling or the wallpaper when we were children. China Miéville suggests in his introduction to this reprint of the Gormenghast books that reading them ‘can be like the moment the friend we greet turns and is not our friend at all, but an only vaguely similar stranger’. Conversely in the novel Gormenghast itself a group of characters stray into an area that is ‘new to them, although unquestionably of the very stuff of their memories … They had never been there before, yet it was not alien – it was all Gormenghast.’ The uncanny plays both ways. We think we know it and we know we don’t. It sustains its weird intimacy with us in each case.

(LRB 26 January 2012)