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A musical Peake

Duncan Fallowell describes how he came to write a libretto for a rock opera of Gormenghast by the German band Can

By Duncan Fallowell   January 1999

In the summer of 1968-as it happened, the year of Mervyn Peake’s death-three young men were sharing a breakfast table on the Orient Express as it crossed European Turkey. I had joined it at Salonika, where on the platform I had seen my first junkie (he was asleep on a bench with his eyes open but rolled back; long beatnik hair; a figure both fascinating and repulsive). This wasn’t the Orient Express of today, a glossy product of the nostalgia industry, but a descendant of the original; its dilapidated Ottoman carriages filled with the air of a dead empire.


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