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Postmodern narrative strategies in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas


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Radoš, Ivan. (2015). Postmodern narrative strategies in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Polak, Iva].

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The aim of this paper is to analyse the structure of the novel Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, from the narratological point of view. We examined the novel’s intricate mise-enabyme structure of narrative embedding which presents a curious dilemma between two opposing models of embedding and framing: discourse and story. It is argued that the ambivalent and ontologically unstable narrative structure that connects the six stories prevents singular epistemological interpretations and presents a markedly postmodern, post-cognitive, ontologically foregrounded text. The complicated structure of mediation of the stories also serves to make the reader aware of the ultimate fictionality of the stories. The paper examines how the stories are connected by a net of metaleptic transgressions, among which the notion of reincarnation is the most prominent one. It can be concluded that the novel on the thematic level also deals with ontological ambiguities that prevent a unifying thematic interpretation. Nevertheless, the six stories that form the novel are thematically connected by their shared metafictional concerns. Although the human nature is portrayed in every story as unchangingly predatory, violent and depraved, the novel also posits that no matter how deeply entrenched the dominant ideological narratives are, there is always room for another story that can subvert them. Even on the story level, the novel is a story about stories, which makes it again a metafictional novel. The last part of the paper examines the explicitness with which the novel exposes its metafictionality by self-consciously and systematically drawing attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality and how this, in turn, engages the reader to do the same and question the narratives of the worlds inside and outside the book.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell, narrative levels, embedding, mise-en-abyme, metalepsis, metafictionality
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Polak, Iva
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2015 17:00
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2015 17:00

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