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Notes

  • 1. Mitchell stated that when writing the novel he considered how the ‘ethical distance from good to evil can be crossed creepingly, by a long series of small steps. As a human being, I believe that this series of steps must be understood’ (2010a: n.pag.).
  • 2. There are countless examples of characters intertextually referencing both their fellow narrators and related geographical locations in the novel. See Dillon 2011b.
  • 3. In an interview following the release of the novel, Mitchell confirmed this global risk butterfly-effect, stating that there is ‘one action in each of the stories that makes the succeeding story possible [... ] a macro plot between the covers, over and above the micro plot between the beginnings and endings of the chapters’ (2005: n.pag.).
  • 4. The narrative cyclicality prefigures the repetition of historical world events that re-emerge in Cloud Atlas: ‘On the Holy Mountain, all the yesterdays and tomorrows spin around again sooner or later’ (113).
  • 5. At various points in the chapter, the Holy Mountain is appropriated by ‘the Asian sphere of Co-prosperity’, re-named ‘The People’s Mountain’ by the Communists, and incorporated into ‘a State Tourism Designation Area’ by the contemporary Chinese government (120, 124, 123).
  • 6. The employment of a ‘non-corpum’ which inhabits human hosts is a technique of narrative connectivity which Mitchell goes on to explore in Cloud Atlas, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010) and The Bone Clocks (2014).
  • 7. The Zookeeper’s four ethical protocols are: it must be accountable for its actions; prevent the self-destruction of humanity; not ‘wilfully deceive’; and always remain ‘invisible to the visitors’ (387, 409, 390, 421).
  • 8. Jan Nederveen Pieterse reasons that globalisation may merely amount to ‘Westernization by another name’ (1995: 47).
  • 9. A concept inherited from Ghostwritten, alluding to the intertextuality that exists between all of Mitchell’s works, forming a macronovel of related characters and themes.
  • 10. Sarah Dillon notes that the etymological construction of ‘Autua’ is itself a signpost to the ‘palindromic’ structure of Cloud Atlas, intimating the cyclical and recursive nature of history within the novel (2011b: 10).
  • 11. The chapter bears thematic similarities to Kant’s essay, ‘Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose’, which emphasised the need for Westerners to demonstrate a cosmopolitan empathy towards indigenous peoples and perceive cultural engagement from the position of the other. For Kant, cosmopolitanism was an end-project for humanity, rather than an existing and viable social reality. By focusing on the cyclicality of history through a fragmentary narrative, Mitchell rejects a teleological approach in favour a polycentric perspective.
  • 12. Etymologically, Unanimity refers to an agreement by all people in a given situation. However, unlike uniformity, it does not constitute absolute agreement (therefore, like cosmopolitanism, preferring pluralism and heterogeneity over consensus).
  • 13. The etymological construction of Meronym’s name indicates her unique role in the novel. Linguistically, the similar term ‘metonym’ refers to a part of something used to refer to the whole, thus alluding to Mitchell’s intratextual repetition of themes and characters. The mutually relational process of metonymy informs the novel’s structural interconnectedness as a whole.
  • 14. Mitchell has stressed his ambivalence regarding civilisational progress in the future: ‘Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I view the world in a bleak way. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I view it in an optimistic way. And Sundays I take the day off (Mitchell 2010b: n.pag.).
  • 15. See Dunlop 2011.
  • 16. Mitchell’s most recent novel, The Bone Clocb, continues his preoccupation with ethical engagement, applying cosmopolitan values to science-fiction and fantasy narratives. The novel concerns a trans-universal war between a band of peaceful ‘Horologists’ and predatory ‘soul-decanters’, echoing the historical struggles of Cloud Atlas that pitted ethical agency against cannibalistic rapaciousness. In doing so, Mitchell’s new novel gestures towards literature’s unique capacity to extend future discussions of cosmopolitanism in new directions.
  • 17. See Childs and Green 2011.

18. In this way, the novel also reflects James Lull’s related notion of ‘transcul- turation’, a process by which ‘cultural forms literally move through time and space where they interact with other cultural forms and settings, influence each other, produce new forms, and change the cultural settings’, thus creating ‘cultural hybrids - the fusing of cultural forms’ (242-3, 243).

 
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