Love Affairs of Neverwhere

Neil Gaiman says, apropos the Dumbledore fracas,

Neverwhere has two gay characters who are Out, as far as the book is concerned, and one major character who is gay but it isn’t mentioned, simply because that character was one of many people in that book who don’t have any sexual or romantic entanglements during the story. So it’s irrelevant.

He actually mentioned this a few years ago, saying that

I tend not to write characters with sexual orientation as a starting point, unless that’s how they define themselves. Most people don’t.

Just for fun, I wonder if we can guess which character in Neverwhere he’s talking about. My own copy of Neverwhere is I-don’t-know-where, at least a timezone away, so although I have the Carey/Fabry graphic novel adaptation with me, this will have to be from memory.

(Incidentally, I rather liked that adaptation. Changing the operation of the Angelus might even have been an improvement; the rules-of-use in the original seemed a little arbitrary. My only real quarrel with Carey and Fabry’s re-imagining is that they made Door too pretty.)

The two Out characters are, of course, Hunter and her erstwhile employer/lover, Serpentine. We’re told that the other gay character is male. Of the major male characters, we know that Richard Mayhew is straight: he’s engaged to Jessica and has at least a little bit of a thing for Door.

The obvious choice would be the Marquis de Carabas. He’s got style and fashion sense, you know. I don’t recall any talk of old girlfriends, and he’s certainly a major character.

It’s hard to imagine Croup and Vandemar being attracted to anyone or anything, except violence. While you might make the case that they’re the Wint-and-Kidd of the novel, it seems like a stretch to me — and Gaiman says there’s one gay male character left un-Outed, not two.

The cast doesn’t really have any other men I would call “major characters.” Old Bailey is a bit player, and the Black Friars are essentially accessories to the Key. Islington is an angel, and while we’re shown that Islington does desire a few things, neither other angels nor people appear on that list. (Here and elsewhere in Gaiman, angels are sexless, anyway.)

Passing over Varney, the Lord Rat-Speaker, Hammersmith and the rest of the dramatis personae small print, I should point out the character I really want to be gay. He’s not a “major” player, but I have to think that the bloke who should be Outed is Arnold Stockton, the media mogul who owns all the newspapers and TV stations that Rupert Murdoch doesn’t.

Wouldn’t that be just perfect?

And for that matter, if people come back to the stories later, knowing more than they did the first time, sometimes they’ll find that the stories have changed and grown while they were away. #

2 thoughts on “Love Affairs of Neverwhere

  1. This is one of the things that kind of gets me about all of the brou-haha over Dumbledore: what’s it matter? First of all, it’s a matter of art; Rowling’s interpretation is not necessarily gospel just because she is the writer. There are plenty of older characters in the book whose relationships and therefore sexual preferences are never discussed (e.g., most of the other professors), so all those folk complaining that now Dumbledore is a bad role model because he wasn’t “out” clearly have their painties in too much of a twist because it’s perfectly possible to interpret the book as saying, “well, maybe he was, but as that was completely irrelevant and inconsequential to the main storyline, we were never told.” Yrrrrgh.

  2. I don’t have a strong emotional investment in the issue. Above all, I think it’s an instructive illustration in how people think about books. It’s been marvelous theater!

    For myself, I don’t believe for a moment that a story can exist “in a vacuum.” We have to know the language in order to read (or listen), and we interpret the signals we receive based on the experience we’ve acquired up to that point. The story then, in turn, changes the contents of our heads. My view of a book can be changed by reading a perceptive review which points out something I hadn’t noticed; generally, this makes books better, because I become aware of new subtleties.

    If an artist says something about their art, that can change the mental representation I have of the artwork, and it’s up to me how I let it do that.

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