Some authors have the natural ability to enthrall the reader from the beginning, weave plots that are both entertaining and suspenseful, and end the book with the reader asking, “How in the world did he do that?” David Mitchell does just that in his award-winning novel, Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas is a science-fiction book that employs six different plots simultaneously yet separately. Mitchell utilizes different settings that span across ages and continents, shapes multiple plots, and alludes to the separate plots to link them together across the novel. He uses this literary structure not just to entertain the reader, but also to share a belief and realization.
Cloud Atlas is not necessarily set in one time period or place; it is set in several ages and locations, from the 19th Century South Pacific islands to California in the ‘70s and even dystopian Korea. “The reader is flung forward in time and then propelled backwards to the point from which he departed.” (Skidelsky, A world of tricks). Mitchell rotates among six different settings throughout the novel. The novel opens with the journal writings of Adam Ewing during 1850 in the Chatham Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean. After only one chapter, the setting abruptly changes. The reader finds himself or herself thrown straight into the letters from a 1930’s bisexual musical composer in Belgium. The letters are addressed to Rufus Sixsmith, who is later identified as the lover of the composer, Robert Frobisher. Not long after the plot is introduced, the setting once again changes. The third setting in the novel opens to the thoughts of Rufus Sixsmith, now a 66-year-old man living in California in 1975. Although the chapter begins ...
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... important and can affect the decisions and fates of others throughout the course of history. Mitchell portrayed this belief flawlessly in his novel.
Alleva, Richard. "Thin air: 'Cloud Atlas'." Commonweal 139.21 (2012): 16+.
Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 May 2014.
Bissell, Tom. "History Is a Nightmare." The New York Times Book Review 29 Aug.
2004: 7. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 May 2014.
Hensher, Philip. "Roller-coaster of a ride." Spectator 14 Feb. 2004: 34+. Literature
Resource Center. Web. 16 May 2014.
Mitchell, David. Cloud Atlas. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004.
Skidelsky, William. "A world of tricks." New Statesman  22 Mar. 2004: 55.
Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 May 2014.
Wood, James. "The Floating Library." The New Yorker 5 July 2010: 69. Literature
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