A poll, to test my hypothesis that there is a negative correlation between liking Diana Wynne Jones and liking Mervyn Peake

My husband and I overlap in our feelings about many books--we both love Ursula Le Guin (when we met, we both had the same Le Guin on our nightstands), and he enjoyed Megan Whalen Turner's books very much (a good thing for our marriage). But there are rifts in the lute.

Leaving aside Red Shift, by Alan Garner (him-brilliant, me--runs sobbing from room to throw self off cliff), the foremost significant disagreement we have is regarding Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan series (him--brilliant, me--I cannot appreciate the brilliant writing because I am drowning in a wasteland devoid of any spark of human comfort). The secondmost significant disagreement is regarding Diana Wynne Jones--I have tried him on several, and he did not care for them and won't read any more.

So, being a social scientist, I would like to collect data with which to test my hypothesis that there is a negative correlation between liking Titus Groan and liking Diana Wynne Jones.

Titus Groan or Diana Wynne Jones?

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  1. Ah, my beloved Gormenghast --- discovered in high school and adored ever after. But I'm a DWJ fan too, so there you are. As for Garner, I loved his stuff as a kid, but haven't read anything recent like Red Shift so can't help you two there.

    Seems to me Peake is closer to something like Susannah Clarke (Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke) than DWJ though.

  2. Ah--I didn't like JS and Mr N at all! And my husband did, lots. So I think the Peake/Clarke connection might well be valid...

  3. I have no idea who Mervyn Peake might be (and me, with a BA in British and American Literature), but I suspect that, since I've enjoyed DWJ, I'll have a 50/50 chance of disliking the guy. Based upon, of course, a statistically minuscule sample group, of course. I'm human, it's what I do - generalize on microscopic sample groups!

  4. Red Shift left me utterly baffled and vaguely freaked out when I was a kid. But I had no idea what was supposed to have happened.

  5. I love DWJ, Peake is probably the most important author in my world (not only for Gormenghast - I frequently pace my room reading his poetry out loud and on the verge of tears!) and I think Red Shift is brilliant. I'm not sure whether this disproves your theory or proves that I am lacking in any sort of discernment and love everything!

  6. or maybe it goes to show that you are one of the rare brilliant minds capable of embracing multitudes.... :)

    or simply that my theory is flawed.

  7. I vaguely remember trying to read Peake. It didn't work. I read a stack of Alan Garner and liked them at the time, but never felt the need to read them again. I like some of DWJ very much, but not her really complex books like Fire and Hemlock. Except for Deep Secret, which I love. Um...I think this means I am basically a shallow person although capable of depth, but refusing to enter it. Or something.

  8. Can I have: like Peake, love DWJ, love all of Alan Garner EXCEPT Red Shift (find the hero way too annoying)?

  9. This is not working out as neatly as I had hoped.


  10. I ticked I like/love them both, but it's not accurate because I quite like Mervyn Peake but I love love love Diana Wynn Jones. If I never saw Gormenghast again in my life I wouldn't mind (or possibly even notice) but if even one of my Diana Wynn Jones books goes temporarily missing I notice and care. My husband tolerates Gormenghast and has so little interest in Diana Wynn Jones that he's always surprised to hear that anyone else is even aware of her.

  11. Hm. I've never read Mervyn Peake because I have suspected I wouldn't like him. There's not really a poll option for that so I wanted to weigh in here instead. But if he's like Susanna Clarke maybe I've been unjust in not reading him, because I really did love JS & MN.

  12. I must confess I've never read Mervyn Peake nor Red Shift. However, I love DWJ (and have since I first was introduced to her books around age 10) and I loved Jonathan Strange, too. So...um...yeah.

    On a separate note, your minor rift in paradise doesn't sound like it's insurmountable! :) My husband hardly ever even reads fiction--he's much more of a non-fiction person--and somehow we get along. (It helps that he's willing to at least read MY stuff.)

  13. Love Diana Wynne Jones.

    Keep meaning to read something by Mervyn Peake because he is an Important Author (if you're a fantasy reader, at least, and I am).

    Really like Alan Garner probably not in my top ten favorite authors (if I had such a list), but up there near the top. Can't figure Red Shift, though I keep wanting to. Parts of it are haunting and beautiful, lots of it confuses me (It's "Tam Lin" how?), and I understand that my paperback copy has a fairly important on-the-back-cover note left out.

    Oh, and I thoroughly enjoy Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

    None of which really answers your question, does it?

  14. You might like to discount my input on account of weird spelling brain explosion.

    I loved Alan Garner as a child but don't re-read him as an adult. My mum loved Alan Garner but not DWJ or Mervyn Peake.

    You will never get a tidy PhD thesis out of this sample.

  15. In light of the survey results, I'm going to say that I wouldn't like Mervyn's stuff.

    As to a tidy PhD thesis, this survey hopes to become one.

  16. I think Aishwarya pretty much says it for me (except I don't read Peake's poetry out loud, because it would embarrass the rest of the family). And I've just spent an entire afternoon reading stuff on Red Shift, which I read on practically the actual day it was first published, I was waiting so eagerly. I didn't find Diana Wynne Jones until much later, so she's not part of my mental landscape the way Peake and Garner are, but I'm reading my way through all her books now. Fire and Hemlock definitely my favourite - most Garner-like, I think.


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