The dreamers and the scum of the earth

So the grey arena formed itself and the crowd grew, while the domed ceiling of the dark place dripped, and the lamps were re-filled and some held candles, some torches, while others had brought mirrors to reflect the light, until the whole place swam like a miasma.

Were his shoulder not hurting from the grip it had sustained Titus might well have wondered whether he was asleep and dreaming.

Around him, tier upon tier (for the centre of the arena was appreciably lower than the margin, and there was about the place almost the feeling of a dark circus) were standing or were seated the failures of earth. The beggars, the harlots, the cheats, the refugees, the scatterlings, the wasters, the loafers, the bohemians, the black sheep, the chaff, the poets, the riff-raff, the small fry, the misfits, the conversationalists, the human oysters, the vermin, the innocent, the snobs and the men of straw, the pariahs, the outcasts, rag-pickers, the rascals, the rakehells, the fallen angels, the sad-dogs, the castaways, the prodigals, the defaulters, the dreamers and the scum of the earth.

My kind of people.

A wonderful view of the preterite underworld in Mervyn Peake’s Titus Alone.

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4 thoughts on “The dreamers and the scum of the earth”

  1. Wonderful. Reminds me of McCarthy’s description of the eclectic assemblage in the Fort Griffin saloon at the end of Blood Meridian. Was McCarthy familiar with Peake’s work?

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    1. No idea if C-Mac read Peake but there’s a large concordance in their lexicon. Ran across the word “suzerainty” in Titus Alone, a word I first heard in Blood Meridian.

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        1. There’s this part at the end of Titus Alone where all these animals come to a meeting place peacefully—they suspend all their predatory instincts and just witness something. Totally reminded me of the lone tree burning in the desert in Blood Meridian.

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