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David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas Of Narrative Constraints And Environmental Limits

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Chapter Summary

David Mitchell's 2004 novel Cloud Atlas pushes the limits of narrative construction through its use of narrative constraints, thematically linked embedded narratives that come to closure only during their second iteration, wherein they proceed in reverse order. This chapter explores how the self-imposed narrative constraints that Mitchell employs enable him to drive home a message about exceeding environmental limits. Through the temporally innovative narrative structure, which moves back from a post-apocalyptic &t;future&t; to a past seemingly still in flux, Mitchell encourages us to consider the far-reaching ramifications of present actions. Cloud Atlas is one cohesive novel built of six novellas, each written in a different genre and taking place in a different time and place. The novel's boomerang structure destabilizes the tradition of the embedded narrative. Customarily, embedded narratives are provided within the story itself.

Keywords: boomerang; Cloud Atlas; David Mitchell; environmental limits; narrative constraints



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