Cinema & the Arts as Sermons: THE PECULIAR PICTURES OF MERVYN PEAKE


Video from Pete Beard


"This video takes a look at the life and work of British illustrator and author Mervyn Peake. He was one of the most unusual and distinctive 20th century British illustrators, and although he could be considered more of an acquired taste than others I've featured I hope this will create some new enthusiasts among those who've never heard of him. Spoiler alert - his story does not end happily." from video introduction.


If you are not familiar with Mervyn Peake you need to read his classic trilogy: The Gormenghast Trilogy. The Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone)


1911 - Born July 9th in the hill town of Kuling , Kiang-Hsi Province, China . The nearby mountain overlooking the plains of Ho was an inspiration for his novels. The younger son of Congregationalist missionary parents, most of his childhood was spent in Tientsin (Tianjin) south east of Peking ( Beijing ). from Biography on the official website: Mervyn Peake, The Official Website



"Viewed from Burpham, a small village three miles away, Arundel Castle looms magnificently above the flat, watery plain, visible on either side of the meandering Arun river below. Built by Roger de Montgomery in the 11th Century, the vast edifice can at times appear brooding and haunting, even oppressive, in both scale and demeanour. But in high summer when the shimmering light picks out in sharp focus, the myriad turrets and high battlements, its sheer vastness never fails to impress, while the castle itself might well have stepped from the pages of a romantic fairytale.

In 1940 when my parents moved from London to Burpham, renting a small cottage from the Duke of Norfolk one of whose many properties this included, they were forever aware of the castle's disproportinate size dominating the skyline to the west. A permanent reminder of the power that once emanated from its dark interior, the castle was, and still is, a mighty landmark, one which my parents recognised as playing a large part in their daily lives.

Arundel castle has often been refered to as the principal contender for my father's inspiration for Gormenghast, and although this is undoubtedly one theory, the castle should be seen more as just one of many candidates, for the setting of the novel. Given that we are often inspired by what we have seen and experienced as children, I'm more inclined to think that the castle formed but one of many visual memories retained from a colourful and exotic upbringing. It does not however take much of a leap of imagination to observe Steerpike as he climbs the walls of the castle, now not Gormenghast, but Arundel, while Fuschia waits, unaware of the imminent arrival of the dangerous interloper as he makes his way to her attic, through the ivy..." from the official website written by Mervyn Peake's son Sebastian.


Another good source of reading about Mervyn Peak is the website: Peake STUDIES

the journal dedicated to the life and work of Mervyn Peake (1911–1968)


The Book " The Voice of the Heart" a biography of the author can still be purchased.


I have read the trilogy numerous times over the years and from a Christian perspective it is dark, a gothic story that provides an in depth look into idolatry and human nature.

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