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The City and the City

Miéville Reader Thoughts

To continue where we left off [a post a day? I apologise to my singular Googlebot for all the extra work] we can talk about some of the threads that run through China’s work.

A Critique of Modernity

Especially true for TC&C, Last Days of New Paris, and the Bas-Lag series. Modernity can be simplified as everything that happened from the Enlightenment onwards; the Industrial Revolution, mass production and consumption, the ascent of materialist science and secular society. It’s usually valorized as a ‘victory of Reason’ over our supposed superstitious and feudal past. It has many critics however, and to this list I would add a large chunk of China Miéville’s books.

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…And Talking of the Beeb…

Being one of those rare birds that doesn’t even own a tv, and has a foraging relationship to broadcast media at best – I have just noticed that China Mieville’s The City and the City was adapted for BBC2. And it’s over, goddamit. I guess I’ll have to wait for it to reach a wider distribution somehow *sigh.

I was pleased that David Morrissey has the lead role as Detective Tyador Borlu in the fictional European city of Beszel, especially after his brooding portrayals as the Duke of Norfolk in The Other Boleyn Girl or Walking Dead’s the Governor, and that he apparently wondered “how the hell are they going to film this!?” when interviewed about TC&C. I’m no filmmaker, but I love the idea of every project pushing the boundaries in some way or another.

Things I love about TC&C – it’s rooted in crime-noir, but is still (for me) undeniably a mythic book. Myth in the St. Ursula Le Guin sense; that it speaks of real things in a hyper-real way. The book conjures up a fictional European city-state with all the associated crazy-arse histories, the implicit and overt prejudices and that sense of urban claustrophobia. It’s been cited next to Kafka and Camus (more Camusian, in my view) in that oeuvre of European Existentialist/Modernist fiction.

If TC&C tickles your Mieville, then I suggest reading The Last Days of New Paris next. Totally different, but it kinda follows that critical study of the European imagination.

*I tell you, I am only half-joking when I talk about writing a China Mieville Reader. Now, if only Verso or Zero Books would commission it… 😀




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