September 19, 2011

I nominate this fellow as the greatest villain in all of literature. He stalks and dominates the pages of the first two volumes of the surreal medieval Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. His name is Steerpike. “His face was pale like clay and save for his eyes, mask-like. These eyes were set very close together, and were small, dark red, and of startling concentration.” Peake was a great admirer of Charles Dickens, and I wonder if Steerpike was named in honor of Steerforth, the most worthy villain of Dickens’ David Copperfield.

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