26+ quotes from The City & the City by China Miéville

Quotes from The City & the City

China Miéville ·  312 pages

Rating: (40.4K votes)


“Books are always obviously having conversations with other books, and some times they're amiable and sometimes not.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“Is it more childish and foolish to insist that there is a conspiracy or that there is not?”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“He walked with equipoise, possibly in either city. Schrödinger’s pedestrian.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“We would never call inexplicable little insights 'hunches,' for fear of drawing the universe's attention. But they happened, and you knew you had been in the proximity of one that had come through if you saw a detective kiss his or her fingers and touch his or her chest where a pendant to Warsha, patron saint of inexplicable inspirations, would, theoretically, hang.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“From that historically brief quite opaque moment, came the chaos of our material history, an anarchy of chronology, of mismatched remnants that delighted and horrified investigators.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“You cannot train yourself to successfully and sustainedly unsee and unhear — you do them all the time, but they also fail, repeatedly, and you cheat, repeatedly, in all sorts of small ways. The book mentions that several times. It is absolutely about absolute fidelity to those particular urban protocols, exaggerations or extrapolations of the ones that I think are all around us all the time in the real world; but it's also about cheating them, and failing them, and playing a little fast and loose, which I think is an inextricable part of such norms.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“While yes we can both agree the sudden recovery of this footage smells not a little, and that we appear to be bits of tinfoil-on-string to some malevolent government kitten, yes yes yes but, Borlu, however they've come by this evidence, this is the correct decision.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“There is no case,” he told her. “There’s a series of random and implausible crises that make no sense other than if you believe the most dramatic possible shit. And there’s a dead girl at the end of it all.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“Interstiality is a theme that is simultaneously genuinely interesting and potentially quite useful, and also a terrible cliché, so if you're going to use it, it helps to be at least respectfully skeptical about the wilder claims of its theoretical partisans, I think.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“His fidelity to the cliche transcended the necessity to communicate.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“Like any dissidents they were neurotic archivists. Agree, disagree, show no interest in or obsess over their narrative of history, you couldn't say their didn't shore it up with footnotes and research.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“At the social/political/ juridical, etc., level, the organizing principle was less to do with games and more to do with the nature of taboos—enormously powerful, often enormously arbitrary, and (crucially) regularly quietly broken, without undermining the fact of the taboo itself. That last element, I think, is sometimes underestimated in the discussions of cultural norms, where they are both asserted and breached. Both those elements are foundational.

— author interview”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“…where the two cities are close up they make for interference patterns, harder to read or predict. They are more than a city and a city; that is elementary urban arithmetic.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“If the techs are on it we're fine, but Briamiv and his buddy could fuck up a full stop at the end of a sentence.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“But here’s the problem you’re not addressing. While yes we can both agree the sudden recovery of this footage smells not a little, and that we appear to be bits of tinfoil-on-string to some malevolent government kitten, yes yes yes but, Borlú, however they’ve come by the evidence, this is the correct decision.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“Volunteering’s an early and strong indication that you’re not suited,” he said.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“But pass through Copula Hall and she or he might leave Beszel, and at the end of the hall come back to exactly (corporeally) where they had just been, but in another country, a tourist, a marvelling visitor, to a street that shared the latitude-longitude of their own address, a street they had never visited before, whose architecture they had always unseen, to the Ul Qoman house sitting next to and a whole city away from their own building, unvisible there now they had come through, all the way across the Breach, back home.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“It's not just us keeping them apart. It's everyone in Beszel and everyone in Ul Qoma. Every minute, every day. We're only the last ditch: it's everyone in the cities who does most of the work. It works because you don't blink. That's why unseeing and unsensing are so vital. No one can admit it doesn't work. So if you don't admit it, it does. But if you breach, even if it's not your fault, for more than the shortest time ... you can't come back from that.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“...If she were studying Orciny, and there might be excellent reasons to do so, she'd be doing her doctorate in Folklore or Anthropology or maybe Comp Lit. Granted, the edges of disciplines are getting vague. Also that Mahalia is one of a number of young archaeologists more interested in Foucault and Baudrillard than in Gordon Childe or in trowels.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“The early years of a Bes (and presumably an Ul Qoman) child are intense learnings of cues. We pick up styles of clothing, permissible colours, ways of walking and holding oneself, very fast. Before we were eight or so most of us could be trusted not to breach embarrassingly and illegally, though licence of course is granted children every moment they are in the street.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“They looked like people-shaped clay in the moments before God breathed out.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“«Si riferisce ai loro poteri magici? Vorrei, lo vorrei tanto. Ma anche così questi scavi sono incomparabili. La cultura materiale non ha nessun senso. Non esiste nessun’altra parte al mondo in cui si possa riportare alla luce quelli che sembrano oggetti della tarda antichità con bordi taglienti, reperti in bronzo bellissimi e compositi mischiati con materiale palesemente neolitico. Con questa roba è come se la stratigrafia andasse a farsi benedire. È stata usata come prova contro il matrix di Harris... erroneamente, ma capirà perché. Ecco perché questi scavi sono così popolari fra i giovani archeologi.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“Tutte le note erano come a strati, un palinsesto di interpretazione in progresso. Feci archeologia.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“And even if you’re right, the CIA paid millions of dollars to men trying to kill goats by staring at them,” I said.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“Same weather over here as back home," I said.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


“How could one not think of the stories we all grew up on, that surely the Ul Qomans grew up on too? Ul Qoman man and Besź maid, meeting in the middle of Copula Hall, returning to their homes to realise that they live, grosstopically, next door to each other, spending their lives faithful and alone, rising at the same time, walking crosshatched streets close like a couple, each in their own city, never breaching, never quite touching, never speaking a word across the border.”
― China Miéville, quote from The City & the City


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About the author

China Miéville
Born place: in Norwich, England, The United Kingdom
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