This might appear to be going off at a tangent but stick with me and hopefully you’ll see where I am coming from. In Franz Kafka’s book America the size and scale of normal things like hotels, factories and roads are used to great effect to unsettle both the reader and Karl the main character.
There is something quite similar going on here but it not using scale but just the difference between a world where it is all stones, ancient traditions and bright carver ceremonies into something existing in parallel with cars, glass buildings, lifts and aeroplanes. It feels odd, unsettling and incredibly hard to mentally put Titus groan seventy-seventh Earl of Gormenghast into that situation.
“Though his eyes shone with the thrill of his discovery, he suffered at the same time a pang of resentment – a resentment that this alien realm should be able to exist in a world that appeared to have no reference to his home and which seemed, in fact, supremely self-sufficient. A region that had never heard of Fuchsia and her death, nor of her father, the melancholy earl, nor of his mother the countess with her strange liquid whistle that brought wild birds to her from distant spinneys.
Were they coeval; were they simultaneous? These worlds; these realms – could they both be true? Were there no bridges? Was there no common land? Did the same sun shine upon them? Had they the constellations of the night in common?”
Bullet points between pages 1 – 57
* Titus has turned his back on Gormenghast but the first surprise is that as he rode out of the castle at the end of the last book he is now using a boat and drifting down a river evading capture from men wearing helmets
* But he succumbs to fatigue and is washed up and picked up by a man who doesn’t know what to do with him but then a larger than life character Muzzlehatch picks him up and puts him in the car and evades the police
* But Titus wants to get away from Muzzlehatch who is odd with his tendency to talk to animals and keep large numbers of them in cages so he heads off into the city and finds an aerodrome and then hides inside a glass building
* He observes a party and makes a dramatic entrance after falling through the glass roof and again Muzzlehatch is there to save him but this time they argue and Titus refuses his help and is captured and put into prison
More strangeness tomorrow…