Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Scar month: an illustrative example

To celebrate the tenth birthday of The Scar by China Mieville, I'm re-reading it and posting about the experience. There will be spoilers!
Currently at: chapter 43, page 676

Shortly after my previous post on the characters in The Scar I came across a paragraph that illustrates what I was getting at. It's on page 589 of my edition, just at the start of chapter 37. In the immediately aftermath of the war with the New Crobuzon fleet, Bellis is wandering the streets of Armada, trying to process what has happened:
It was quite unfair, Bellis thought nervously, that so few of her own haunts had been harmed. By what right was that? She, after all, did not even care.
Mieville is writing in the tight third person here, and no doubt Bellis thinks she doesn't care. But it's not true. She does care, and I know she cares, even though she hasn't figured it out yet. (Actually, I think she knows, but she's not ready to accept it.) If the characters didn't have depth, then I wouldn't be able to draw that conclusion from the words Mieville has written.

Honestly, I think that's missing a bit from some of Mieville's later novels. I don't feel like he spends enough time developing his characters' internal lives for me to be able to pick up on contradictions like that. His focus, I suppose, is elsewhere.

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