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Point of view in Moorcock's fiction

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  • Thongor
    Barbarian Swordsman
    • Apr 2005
    • 1063

    Point of view in Moorcock's fiction


    One of those writerly questions. I've noticed that you use both first person and third person POV at different times in your many books. Just wondering if you had a preference? I know some writers like one better than the other. Have to admit, I found being inside Elric's head in first person POV in Dreamthief's Daughter a little jarring after all those years of reading him in third person.
  • Michael Moorcock
    Site Host
    • Dec 2003
    • 14278

    I choose which is most suitable for the story. Different kinds of first person narrative can be employed for different intentions, different kinds of narrative. Third person can also be used in different ways. Much depends on tone, on intention. Pyat, for instance, is a highly unreliable narrator while Bastable is a fairly reliable narrator whose information is sometimes unreliable. Depending on the tone, third person can also convey different takes on character and so on -- there's a considerable difference between Jane Austen's third person and Hemingway's, for instance. You use what's best for your purpose. Sorry Elric was disconcerting in first person, but again there was an intention behind that. I wouldn't be doing my best for the reader if I kept doing the same thing over and over.

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    • Thongor
      Barbarian Swordsman
      • Apr 2005
      • 1063

      Oh, no problem on Elric in Dream thief. I rather liked the approach. As a reader, for some reason, I've always leaned towards first person narrators. I blame John Carter. In fact after reading Dreamthief and Scrayling Tree I went out and tracked down the White Wolf Von Bek book and the John Daker material. And I just finished Nomads of the Time Stream so I know what you mean about Bastable. (Got a kick out of him being referenced in Tom Strong by the way.)
      Speaking of Elric and not doing the same thing over and over, I read Revenge of the Rose last week, and it seemed to me that you were approaching the character somewhat differently than you had in the earlier books. I mentioned to a friend of mine that you really seemed to be trying to show more of Elric's inner character I guess. I was very impressed with that book. Some great concepts, like the Gypsy Nation, and I found the sequences where Elric flew on the back of the dragon to be some amazingly descriptive writing. I could really 'see' it. I'll probably read Fortress of the Pearl next. Anyway, thanks for answering my question.


      • Counter-Revolutionary
        Wanderer of the Mittel March
        • May 2005
        • 17

        Interesting. This isn't strictly related to POV, but...

        I've not long ago found my way to this site having been prompted to do so by recently having begun re-reading the Elric books for perhaps the first time in ten years.

        One thing which I had entirely forgotten, and which on re-reading struck me as by far the most distinctive storytelling of the lot, was the fact that the first chapter of Elric of Melnibone is written in the present tense. (Like I said, not strictly POV, but tense is a close cousin, surely?)

        If Michael should happen to read this, any particular reason for the use of the present tense? Masterfully done, of course.



        • Dead-Air
          Eternal Champion
          • Jun 2004
          • 2737

          Huh, I'd forgotten that too, but it sure was effective now that I recall it. It may have been part of why I had to start reading the book on the way home from the bookstore! That was certainly well fitted to a present tense story...
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