By Sarah Dillon
The result of the 1st foreign convention on David Mitchell's writing, this selection of serious essays, makes a speciality of his first 3 novels - Ghostwritten (1999), number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004) - to supply a sustained research of Mitchell's complicated narrative strategies and the literary, political and cultural implications of his early paintings. The essays conceal subject matters starting from narrative constitution, style and the Bildungsroman to representations of Japan, postmodernism, the development of id, utopia, technological know-how fiction and postcolonialism.
1. Introducing David Mitchell’s Universe: A Twenty-First Century apartment of Fiction
2. The Novels in 9 Parts
Peter Childs and James Green
3. ‘Or whatever like that’: Coming of Age in number9dream
4. Remediations of ‘Japan’ in number9dream
Baryon Tensor Posadas
5. The tales We inform: Discursive identification via Narrative shape in Cloud Atlas
6. Cloud Atlas: From Postmodernity to the Posthuman
7. Cloud Atlas and If on a winter’s evening a
traveller: Fragmentation and Integrity within the Postmodern Novel
8. ‘Strange Transactions’: Utopia, Transmigration and Time in Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas
9. Speculative Fiction as Postcolonial: Critique in Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas
10. ‘Moonlight vibrant as a alien craft abduction’: technological know-how Fiction, Present-Future Alienation and Cognitive Mapping
Notes on Contributors
About the Editor
Sarah Dillon is Lecturer in modern Fiction within the university of English on the collage of St Andrews. She is writer of The Palimpsest: Literature, feedback, idea (2007) and has released essays on Jacques Derrida, Elizabeth Bowen, H.D., Michel Faber, Maggie Gee and David Mitchell.
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Additional info for David Mitchell: Critical Essays
Bringing Ghostwritten into the discussion, Caroline Edwards’s ‘“Strange Transactions”: Utopia, Transmigration and Time in Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas’ argues that Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas are two examples of an emerging trend in contemporary British fiction demonstrating utopian ‘moments of possibility’ that network between various geographical spaces and historical times. Drawing on recent developments in theories of ‘processual’ or ‘minor’ utopianism, as well as post-Marxist theories of collective agency, Edwards outlines what she calls the ‘microtopian’ impulses at work within Mitchell’s texts through an analysis of his use of sequential novella-style chapters, transmigratory metamorphoses of narrative voice through different historical moments, and the ways in which coincidence connects seemingly disparate, geographically dispersed characters.
Echoing Mitchell’s attraction to the nine-part structural form, they consider nine aspects of Mitchell’s first three novels: the Planetary novel; noncorpum identity; narrative form; meronymy; history; cloud/ocean; looking for connections; fiction/ fabulation; and, the storyteller. Connecting their discussion and analysis in these sections is the belief that Mitchell’s novels neither insist on the self-containment of their separate parts, nor collapse the distinctiveness of their fictional building blocks into a totalling vision of architectural wholeness.
This attention to the speculative aspects of Mitchell’s writing continues in the final essay in the collection, ‘“Moonlight bright as a UFO abduction”: Science Fiction, Present-Future Alienation and Cognitive Mapping’, in which William Stephenson explores how Cloud Atlas, Ghostwritten and number9dream articulate on a symbolic level a future that appears paradoxically already to be here, due to the pace of technological change and the increasingly estranged basis of everyday experience. Stephenson argues that in Mitchell’s writing, however, this sense of the presence of the future does not lead to a threatened, reactionary response, but instead causes a sense of estrangement brought about by the paradoxical coexistence of accepted present-time data along with objects (or tropes or events) that seem rightly to belong to an imagined or foreseen future.
David Mitchell: Critical Essays by Sarah Dillon