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“A Tourist Guide to Besźel and Ul Qoma”: Unseeing, the Brutality of Borders and the Re-interpretation of Psychogeography in China Miéville’s The City and the City

O'Connor, Robert ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8892-5929 (2016) “A Tourist Guide to Besźel and Ul Qoma”: Unseeing, the Brutality of Borders and the Re-interpretation of Psychogeography in China Miéville’s The City and the City. The Luminary, 7 (1). pp. 75-87.

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Abstract

rban environments feature heavily in the work of China Miéville, inspiring his world creation in a fundamental manner. The landscape of the city becomes a central character in its own right, constantly shifting and changing into new forms. Miéville takes the imagery of the city and plays with it, fusing the imaginative traits of genre fictions with the everyday to produce his own brand of urbanism that uses the fantastical as a lens with which to examine our own contemporary society. Miéville's exercise here could easily be interpreted as an act of psychogeography, what Merlin Coverley defines as “the point at which psychology and geography collide, a means of exploring the behavioural impact of place” (Coverley, 2010). Out of all of Miéville’s novel The City and the City (2009) most successfully demonstrates the fluidity of urban landscapes; introducing a topologically-challenging representation of the city. We witness the effect that the physical intertwining of these urban environments has upon the inhabitants. The central premise of Miéville’s novel – “Unseeing” - plays a significant role within the narrative, encouraging critical thought regarding our own connection with urban landscapes. The concept of policed borders also engages the reader with political considerations and subtexts due to contemporary and historical conflicts involving land disputes and imperialistic motives. By analysing The City and the City closely, this paper will demonstrate how Miéville is using psychogeographical techniques as an intrinsic part of his world-building methodology within the novel and how this approach encourages the reader to consider their own socio-political engagement with contemporary urban landscapes.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN3311 Prose. Prose fiction
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5951

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