By Sarah Dillon
The end result of the 1st overseas convention on David Mitchell's writing, this choice of serious essays, specializes in his first 3 novels - Ghostwritten (1999), number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004) - to supply a sustained research of Mitchell's advanced narrative suggestions and the literary, political and cultural implications of his early paintings. The essays disguise issues 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 condo of Fiction
2. The Novels in 9 Parts
Peter Childs and James Green
3. ‘Or anything like that’: Coming of Age in number9dream
4. Remediations of ‘Japan’ in number9dream
Baryon Tensor Posadas
5. The tales We inform: Discursive id 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 flying saucers 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 institution 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
For Borghino (2010) these are Mitchell’s ‘clarity of language, a strong narrative momentum and his humane, anti-miserablist vision’. Here, for Childs and Green it is the changing world conditions to which Mitchell’s fictions are responding, conditions that are no longer those of the Cold War relations to which postmodernism was a specific response; for Simpson, it is the retention of the Bildungsroman genre with its commitment, even if it is a compromised one, to a teleological narrative of coming-of-age; for Machinal, it is the inclusion of speculative fiction with its delineation of a posthuman vision that transcends postmodernism by introducing a philosophical dimension that goes beyond the individual level to a more collective one; for McMorran it is the rootedness of the playful techniques of postmodernism in the classical literature of the early modern period; for Dunlop, it is Mitchell’s imaginative dialogue with the politics of postcoloniality.
Given Mitchell’s early avoidance of third-person narrative, and his use of it in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet only via the limiting device of allowing the supposed omniscient narrator access to only one character’s thoughts in each chapter, Mitchell’s work has sometimes been criticized for lacking an authorial presence or voice. Rather than expecting Mitchell’s writing to conform to such a traditional demand – instead of looking for the author at the window of the house of fiction observing the ‘real’ world – it might be more productive to understand Mitchell as the magical cat, himself an inhabitant of this fictional universe, an observer of it from within.
After the strangeness came trepidation, as it sunk in that over a hundred international academics had convened to discuss various aspects of my not-fat oeuvre of four novels. All those air-miles … all those kilowatts of mind-energy expended by brains more methodical, cerebral and erudite than mine. What if I opened my mouth and pure drivel came gushing forth? ) Would all these bright people not feel hoodwinked if they found out that Derrida did my head in? Would the Literature Police kick down the bedroom door of my B&B and arrest me for imposture?