Read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell Free Online
Book Title: Cloud Atlas|
Date of issue: August 17th 2004
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
The author of the book: David Mitchell
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 415 KB
Edition: Random House
Read full description of the books Cloud Atlas:This book proves David Mitchell can be any writer he chooses. The six novellas that comprise Cloud Atlas are forgeries - and they are original. Each adopts the voice of a distinct author. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but all of the parts are superb. It is a sextet, like the one found within the novel, with piano, clarinet, cello, flute, oboe, and violin - every individual instrument pleasing, but when played altogether becomes something different and brilliant - the Cloud Atlas Sextet.
Each novella is broken, torn in two, or interrupted, and later continued after the sixth, which is the only one completed in one section. Then the previous five stories are concluded in descending order.
1. THE PACIFIC JOURNAL OF ADAM EWING
Written as a journal. The first story is a delightful combination of Melville, Defoe, and James Fenimore Cooper. It has the serious tone and charm of 18th and 19th century literature, but goes a bit too far, just short of mockery. It is not parody, nor disrespectful. Somehow it has a layer of - what? invisible mirth?
The acknowledgments notes Michael King’s definitive work on the Moriori, A Land Apart: The Chatham Islands Of New Zealand which provided Mitchell with a factual account of Chatham Islands history. This part of the story is interesting, and adds historical details essential to the plot in the way Moby Dick does with whaling information.
Moriori, 1877, survivors of the 1835 Maori invasion
2. LETTERS FROM ZEDELGHEM
Letters, one way. Robert Frobisher, writes amusing accounts of his escapades in Belgium to his lover Rufus Sixsmith while he works for a famous composer as an amanuensis. I pictured Frobisher to be like a young Hugh Laurie. There is something of Waugh, or Nancy Mitford in style and humour. He finds the Adam Ewing journal.
The acknowledgments notes "certain scenes in Robert Frobisher’s letters owe debts of inspiration to Delius as I Knew Him by Eric Fenby....The character Vyvyan Ayrs quotes Nietzsche more freely than he admits." And like Nietzsche, Ayrs has tertiary syphilis, "The syphilitic decays in increments, like fruit rotting in orchard verges".
"Eric William Fenby, OBE (22 April 1906 – 18 February 1997) was an English composer and teacher who is best known for being Frederick Delius's amanuensis from 1928 to 1934. He helped Delius realise a number of works that would not otherwise have been forthcoming...In 1928, hearing that Delius had become virtually helpless because of blindness and paralysis due to syphilis, he offered to serve him as an amanuensis." - Wikipedia
"Delius, Delius amat, Syphilus, Deus, Genius, ooh". - Kate Bush
The amanuensis Eric William Fenby
3. HALF-LIVES, THE FIRST LUISA REY MYSTERY
It's terrible! in a good way. A classic thriller/mystery/crime novel. Cheesy style and plot: spunky girl reporter, whose father (Lester Rey, now dead) had been a cop fighting corruption. Several highly improbable escapes from certain death. All the clichés of this genre are here and brilliantly strung together. Rufus Sixsmith, the addressee in the previous episode, is a key character and his letters from Zedelghem are discovered after he is murdered. Does Sixsmith's prediction about the nuclear reactor come true?
Lester del Rey
4. THE GHASTLY ORDEAL OF TIMOTHY CAVENDISH
The memoir of a sixty something publishing agent, trapped in an old folks home. Cavendish is like an acid-tongued old geezer Randle McMurphy, battling another Nurse Ratched - but as written by Martin Amis. He reads the manuscript for Half-Lives, intending to publish it, as well as his own memoir, "I shall find a hungry ghostwriter to turn these notes you’ve been reading into a film script of my own."
5. AN ORISON OF SONMI~451
Written in Q & A form; sci-fi; a dystopian future, the economy dependent on slave clones. The clone Sonmi becomes the first stable, ascended fabricant, i.e., fully human. Some plot elements of Bladerunner.
Sonmi later watches the film ("disneys") The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, "one of the greatest movies ever made by any director, from any age." Ray "451" Bradbury, Orwell, Huxley and Plato's Republic are referred to. Somni is Winston Smith - and she is Jesus.
Doona Bae as Sonmi
6. SLOOSHA’S CROSSIN’ AN’ EV’RYTHIN’ AFTER
Futurist speculative fiction - civilization has fallen, the few remaining people live a basic existence. Sort of a Tolkienian fantasy but Mitchell's marvelous invented dialect is Burgessish. Zachry the goatherder - there and back again - is a Valleysman on Big I, Ha-Why. "Valleysmen only had one god an’ her name it was Sonmi".
Zachry sees a recording of Sonmi's Q & A interview, because there is a small group of advanced survivors, "Prescients," and one arrives on a great ship to live on the island, to learn the ways of these primitive people. They have a Prime Directive - but who ever follows those? They are nonbelievers,
We Prescients, she answered, after a beat, b’lief when you die you die an there ain’t no comin back.
But what ’bout your soul? I asked.
Prescients don’t b’lief souls exist.
But ain’t dyin’ terrorsome cold if there ain’t nothin’ after?
Yay—she sort o’ laughed but not smilin’, nay— our truth is terror-some cold.
Jus’ that once I sorried for her. Souls cross the skies o’ time, Abbess’d say, like clouds crossin’ skies o’ the world. Sonmi’s the east’n’west, Sonmi’s the map an’ the edges o’ the map an’ b’yonder the edges.
Mauna Kea Observatories on "Big I, Ha-Why".
The stories are connected by certain reoccurring themes and events. Truth. Time. Betrayal. Drugs. Poison. Power. Captivity. Masters and Slaves. Freedom. Cruelty. Worship. The Number Twelve, Seven. Worms, Snakes, Ants, Souls. Birthmarks. Escape. Letters. Books. Music. Films. Aging. Corporate Society. Religion. And there are many literary allusions: Moby Dick; The Bible; Don Juan; Time's Arrow; To the Lighthouse; The Gulag Archipelago; An Evil Cradling; Nineteen Eighty-four; Fahrenheit 451; All Quiet on the Western Front . Nietzsche, Kipling, Conrad, Zane Grey, Homer. Harry Harrison. And more.
One Novella is slyly presented within another. I found myself clinging to the first narrative as the "real" one. When it turns up as "a curious dismembered volume" in the second, damn! I swallowed hard and justified such an appearance as quite possible. Then it is merely mentioned in a manuscript - the third novella - which is being read in the fourth. Got that? making it entirely illogical to continue my belief. And worse: Frobisher says, "Something shifty about the journal’s authenticity—seems too structured for a genuine diary, and its language doesn’t ring quite true—but who would bother forging such a journal, and why?"
So I'm forced into using doublethink of the highest order. The fact is, you want each of these narratives to be the real one. They are that good. The structure weakens the reader's fantasy that this is "real". It becomes very awkward, like explaining a time travel paradox.
Still...never underestimate the power of doublethink. Autua, Adam Ewing, Robert Frobisher, Rufus Sixsmith, Timothy Cavendish, Sonmi, Zachry, Meronym, all remain with me...
Read information about the authorDavid Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature. He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England. After another stint in Japan, he currently lives in Ireland with his wife Keiko and their two children. In an essay for Random House, Mitchell wrote: "I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, but until I came to Japan to live in 1994 I was too easily distracted to do much about it. I would probably have become a writer wherever I lived, but would I have become the same writer if I'd spent the last 6 years in London, or Cape Town, or Moose Jaw, on an oil rig or in the circus? This is my answer to myself." Mitchell's first novel, Ghostwritten (1999), moves around the globe, from Okinawa to Mongolia to pre-Millennial New York City, as nine narrators tell stories that interlock and intersect. The novel won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (for best work of British literature written by an author under 35) and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. His two subsequent novels, number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), were both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In 2003, he was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. In 2007, Mitchell was listed among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World. Mitchell's American editor at Random House is novelist David Ebershoff.
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