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Title: A vapour of existence: David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas
Authors: Lai, Zaneta Zhi Yan
Keywords: Humanities::Literature
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Lai, Z. Z. Y. (2019). A vapour of existence: David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. URECA.
Abstract: David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas goes beyond the dreamscape in challenging reality. Each narrative and character does not serve an individual purpose, but is linked with heavy intertextual meanings. The book does not revolve around a single narrative nor protagonist, but follows 5 characters around their past, present and future lives, with different interactions and roles in different lifetimes/narratives. From previous works like Number9Dream, Mitchell progresses in using the human experience instead of dreams to challenge Reality with a capital R. Yet, with narratives being fragmented into different lifetimes, the paths crossed by each character in different lives transform the heaviness of fragmentation into a light harmony of completeness; an “Uberbook”. Hence, this essay will examine narrative intricacies when clean cut lines of fragmentation are blurred and weaved into a universal intertextual narrative. This essay will also explore the concept of time in two ways: Firstly, it will explore time in the narratological sense/beauty of Mitchel’s work of intertextuality over the novel’s eleven chapters that each have its own protagonists and minor characters – who are their own protagonists in their own chapters, and their respective implications in the timeline. Secondly, it will explore time in a philosophical and existential light where we will draw the relation between an individual’s objective lifetime and the subjective experience of time. Working through a philosophical lens of time in the larger sense of a “lifespan”, theories of narratology, ancient and modern philosophies, along with their concerns of secularity, reincarnation, memory and existential implications will also be explored.
Schools: School of Humanities 
Rights: © 2019 The Author(s).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:URECA Papers

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