David Mitchell: Critical Essays by Sarah Dillon

By Sarah Dillon

The end result of the 1st overseas convention on David Mitchell's writing, this number 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 options and the literary, political and cultural implications of his early paintings. The essays conceal themes starting from narrative constitution, style and the Bildungsroman to representations of Japan, postmodernism, the development of id, utopia, technological know-how fiction and postcolonialism.


David Mitchell

1. Introducing David Mitchell’s Universe: A Twenty-First Century condo of Fiction
Sarah Dillon

2. The Novels in 9 Parts
Peter Childs and James Green

3. ‘Or anything like that’: Coming of Age in number9dream
Kathryn Simpson

4. Remediations of ‘Japan’ in number9dream
Baryon Tensor Posadas

5. The tales We inform: Discursive id via Narrative shape in Cloud Atlas
Courtney Hopf

6. Cloud Atlas: From Postmodernity to the Posthuman
Hélène Machinal

7. Cloud Atlas and If on a winter’s evening a
traveller: Fragmentation and Integrity within the Postmodern Novel
Will McMorran

8. ‘Strange Transactions’: Utopia, Transmigration and Time in Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas
Caroline Edwards

9. Speculative Fiction as Postcolonial: Critique in Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas
Nicholas Dunlop

10. ‘Moonlight vibrant as a unidentified flying object abduction’: technology Fiction, Present-Future Alienation and Cognitive Mapping
William Stephenson

Notes on Contributors


About the Editor
Sarah Dillon is Lecturer in modern Fiction within the institution of English on the college of St Andrews. She is writer of The Palimpsest: Literature, feedback, concept (2007) and has released essays on Jacques Derrida, Elizabeth Bowen, H.D., Michel Faber, Maggie Gee and David Mitchell.

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Example text

First up was a sense of strangeness: the strangeness of being spoken about in the third person. This privilege is usually reserved for politicians, celebrities, criminals, eavesdroppers and ghosts, but not, on the whole, novelists. Maybe it was dicey for the academics, too – what if the notorious contrarian started heckling from the back row? To cope with this awkwardness we evolved an unspoken modus operandi: simply to pretend that the David Mitchell who wrote the books under discussion was not quite the same David Mitchell in the room, but rather a sort of dodgy twin.

Jason stands out in this corrupt world as a lone individual brave and strong enough to resist the way in which ‘mass gang-ups … have a will of their own that swallows up resistance’ (BSG, 257). Jason forfeits his much coveted place in the legendary gang Spooks in order to check that his friend Dean Morran has survived his fall through Mr Blake’s greenhouse (BSG, 178). The novel ends with a narrative of hope as Jason rises up against the bullies, who get their comeuppance, and as the tables are turned on one of the ring leaders: ‘Philip Phelps crashed round the bend, just twenty paces after Grant Burch.

I was invited, and it seemed gracious to accept. I went, and as I expected, it was very strange to hear one referred to as ‘Mitchell’ in sentences like, ‘In this passage, Mitchell clearly means…’ when I’m actually in the room. It was odd for me; it was probably even stranger for people reading their papers out. I like to think we all enjoyed the strangeness of it together. (Kellogg, 2010) We did. The presence of the author at all the papers and the curious and uncanny dialogue this created between reader and writer was a new and productive experience for both parties, both of whom learnt much from each other.

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