SCENE STIR: How we begin to see the biosphere in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
This essay marks the degrading biosphere in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and argues that its narrative disclosure is meaningfully explored using the idea of a growing ecological awareness. The book depicts agentive nonhumans that are unseen or under-attended by the novel’s humans. I suggest this literary presentation of the biosphere is best understood as after the discovery of global warming when matters of ecological concern “intruded,” to use Timothy Morton’s word, on a human-only society with underequipped modes of historical thought. To construct my reading, I motivate recent work in object-oriented philosophies that would eschew anthropocentric metaphysics. I unpack Cloud Atlas’ ecological vision using Morton’s philosophy in which he explores the conceptual and aesthetic consequences of the hyperobject – a thing that is massively distributed in time and space relative to humans.
My analysis will examine passages and techniques that construct Cloud Atlas’ “scenery,” and I argue that they evoke a degrading biosphere that interacts substantially with the human-only personal dramas. Features of the book’s formal construction allow for the animation of this scenery in the reader’s cross-novel interpretation. I look at how characters narrate this scenery to build my argument that the novel’s ecological vision makes claims on its storytelling characters. But as those characters still miss the long-view historical perspectives afforded the reader, they are shown to want community. I end by ruminating on how Cloud Atlas, which would “stretch” the literary novel, questions what the novel is at this ecological moment.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cloud Atlas; nonhumans; Anthropocene; Timothy Morton; Bruno Latour; object oriented ontology
General Literature Studies
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-114800OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-114800DiVA: diva2:794221