Claire Larsonneur

Archipelagos of Apocalypse in David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks

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Informations and abstract

Keywords: Archipelago; Apocalypse; David Mitchell; Psychogeography.

In two of his novels, "Cloud Atlas" (2006) and "The Bone Clocks" (2014), British author David Mitchell introduced apocalyptical worlds situated either just before the catastrophe or sometime after. Islands such as Ireland, Iceland, Hawaii and England feature prominently in those stories, where they spell out both entrapment and refuge; together they build up an archipelago of interconnected narratives and symbols. I wish here, following Deleuze's account of desert islands and Sloterdijk's analysis of spheres to study the specific psychogeography of those extreme islands, focusing on their value as experimental space and as mirrors of the self. Drawing upon the numerous echoes between Mitchell's fiction and "A Jangada de Pedra" by Jose Saramago, we will also explore their status as untethered locations, aloof from continents and their peculiar relation to history. Time cracks up on those islands where chronology is disrupted, where nostalgia for the origins is rife and myths are revisited. Iconic exploratory travels such as James Cook's fated journey into the Pacific are one essential reference but Mitchell also integrated the point of view of indigenous islanders into his narratives, counterbalancing the colonial approach and suggesting apocalypse may not be the end of the road.

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