Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Titus Groan - post II

You have to concentrate with the narrative because it switches back in time based on certain characters with the central event being the birth of Titus. So at one stage you get as far as the christening, which happens twelve days after his birth, only then to get dragged back to catch up on Steerpike who disappeared from the story only hours after the birth.

A great deal is made of the role the city plays in books like Petersburg by Andrei Bely and Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser but one of the most intriguing and constantly developing things about Titus groan is the castle and its surrounds. Firstly it shows tremendous imagination but secondly it makes you wonder just what is left to be discovered.

Bullet points between pages 60 – 112

* Titus’s nanny heads out to pick a wet nurse from those living outside the castle walls and ends up coming back with a woman who has just lost her own child and offered herself rather than allowing the nanny to choose

* The main event is the christening and in the run up to it Flay and Swelter have a confrontation and Flay hits the cook round the face with a chain and the hatred starts to boil underneath the acres of skin that makes up the cook

* At the christening the sisters of the Countess arrive and the twins, who are living in isolation in the South Wing reveal that they hate her and envy her of her position and power and show no real interest in the proceedings

* Things start to go wrong firstly when the doctor laughs and breaks protocol and then when Titus is placed in the ancient book and is about to be lowered into the font he falls out of the book and rips a page

* The countess steps forward and insists he is christened outside on the lawn and so despite protocol being in tatters the service goes ahead and at the end Fuchsia makes up with her nanny and sympathises for her ugly brother

* Meanwhile the story of Steerpike, who was left locked in a room by Flay, is told with him escaping out of the window and staying up on the roof for 24 hours seeing the twin sisters and a lonely poet before finding a way back into the castle

* The way back in happens to be a window into Fuchsia’s beloved attic space and she discovers him lying as if fainted on the floor in front of the window and brings him round only to tell him to leave her room and that she hates him

Could passion spring from this encounter? What next for Titus? Plus what other weird characters has Peake got up his sleeve? More tomorrow…

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