old dreams of gormenghast
I came across Titus Groan (the first book in the Gormenghast series) as a teenager with a mere public school education. After a chapter or two, overcome with the magnificence of it, I knew I needed to put it aside, go away, and get myself some proper learning. Years later, with a literature degree under my belt, and Cocteau Twins in my record collection, I picked up the book again and was not only able to appreciate it, as I had before, but really understand it too.
As a writer, I believe I have one masterwork (relatively speaking) within my creative heart, and it's a Gormenghastly. It has been researched, a quarter written, lost, researched some more, written a little more, folded away, dreamed about, and promised for one of these days when (if) I am finally capable of doing it justice. My writing style has changed completely since I wrote the initial draft, and I may no longer have the appropriate voice for it. But I have been reminded today of the achingly old loneliness of the mountain fastness, which has haunted me for ever - long before I ever read about Gormenghast - as if the experience of the book was so profound for me, it echoed down through my life, my childhood, like a whisper of what was to come.
Reading Gormenghast inspired me to get a thorough education so I could comprehend it. Wanting to create my own homage to it has inspired me for years to become a better writer so I can achieve it. Now that's what I call a great book.