This question is about The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, and it is spoilery, hence this lengthy preamble to ensure the spoiler doesn't show up in the excerpt on the front page. In the end scene, it becomes clear that

Scout is Clio Aames (or her mind): she remembered Clio's and Eric's private jokes, and tells Eric that he was not responsible [for the accident in Greece].

When did Scout realise this? Did she known it all along? Until then, it seemed that she had no idea, but I cannot figure out where the transition happened.

  • @Gilles: Oops, I thought SE was clever enough to hide spoiler-marked sections.
    – user1320
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 7:00
  • It does generally, but not in the short extract shown on the Questions page. But don't worry too much about it, people should know to expect spoilers here anyway.
    – user56
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 7:16

3 Answers 3


No one has had a go at this yet, and I don't have the book on hand so here goes...

The final pieces of the story (the news clipping and the post card to the doctor) show that the doctor's disociative fugue theory was probably correct. Eric was insane with grief and probably hallucinated the entire thing. I can't remember and I don't have the book on hand but I don't actually remember any of the characters who knew about the Ludovician (like Scout, Mr. Nobody and Dr. Trey) having any contact with "real" people.

I think that Eric was insane and died alone in Un-Space. As such, Scout was a part of his unconscious thought; he finally came to terms with Clio's death and forgave himself for it. He did this through Scout, his hallucination.

That being said, there is apparently a whole bunch of negative or un-chapters out there to read which might explain more. I myself haven't read any. This answer might be totally wrong. Consult Google for a more definitive answer.

  • Turns out that there is an official forum full of theories. By the way, I saw the postcard in the end as irrefutable evidence that Eric was still alive.
    – user1320
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 5:05
  • Ah, interesting. I thought he'd sent it before he died. His body was found, after all...
    – Anthony
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 23:08

I think there can't be an answer.

The contradicting newspaper and postcard give two ways to understand the story:

(a) as a realistic story from the viewpoint of a (poor) insane person. Not unlike other stories. Here, Scout indeed exists just in Eric's head, as A Arnold said, and can "know" anything Eric knows.

But then there's the postcard.

The stamp and postmark show it was sent from Greece, where Eric (or his dying mind) ultimatly retires to.

The stamp shows the "Gates of Apollo" in Portara, and the scribe looks like greek alphabet

Did Real-life Eric fly to Greece, send the postcard and got back to Manchester to die in a dump? It's not just unlikely but impossible. The newspaper clip mentions a "large-scale police manhunt" after Eric. Even if that's inaccurate, I still can't see an insane missing person passing passport control from the UK and back. In the "realistic-psychological-novel" version, Eric probably spends his last weeks hallucinating in Manchester's "unspaces", with his imaginary friends and foes.

So who DID send the postcard?

(b) This must validate the Fantastical reading, in which the mythology is real and unbelievable things do happen as Eric describes them. This reading can easily settle, say, the postcard: Eric's body could be found dead while Eric's soul/mind/whatever lives on in the other dimention the story ends at. And since all the metaphysics in this universe are about scribe and written language, it's plausible that Eric found a way to communicate, through written form, from his "beyond". It's plausible that he sent the postcard from another world.

But Scout isn't plausible. If, in that fantasy/occult universe, Scout is as real as Eric, than how did she know about, and resemble, Clio in so many little moments? Let's even say that in the story's climax there's some kind of weird rapture, and all of a sudden Scout has always and ever been Clio, or something. After all, in a fantasy story one can think up fantastic stuff, right?

Then how do you explain the tattoo? The very intimate bits of knowledge Scout seems to "unknowingly" throw in all along the story? Did she gather facts about the First Eric in order to use them like a con-artist would? Or maybe it's a ghost/dibbuk story, and it's dead Clio's soul connecting to Scout's body?

These answers are of course silly. Eric could also be fooling Randle all along, or be himself a ghost. There are endless ugly "deus-ex-literary-machina" solutions. But it's just that kind of story, is it.

As far and deep as I can see, Scout's relations to Clio don't make sense. too many things don't fall into place for neither the sci-fi or realistic solutions to be elegant. Taking all the facts in, both options don't make sense. And that's beautiful.


The body that was found was probably Mr Nobody.

  • 2
    Could you expand on how this relates to the question, and why you think the body is Mr Nobody?
    – user56
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 23:36

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