“some kind of thing it aint us but yet its in us”: David Mitchell and Russell Hoban

Eve, Martin Paul (2014) “some kind of thing it aint us but yet its in us”: David Mitchell and Russell Hoban. In: Symposium on David Mitchell, 9th May 2014, NYU in London.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper appraises the debt that David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas owes to the novels of Russell Hoban, including, but not limited to, Riddley Walker. Over the course of a varied career as a wartime radio operator, an illustrator and then novelist, Russell Hoban wrote sixteen adult novels (in multiple senses of “adult”) and at least fifty children's books. His masterpiece, however, is Riddley Walker, a strange, phonetically written novel set far into a dystopian future where the quest to regain the nuclear technology that caused the world's cataclysm is back in motion. More to the point, Mitchell has clearly indicated in his “Book World” interview that Riddley Walker is a source for the “Sloosha's Crossin'” portion of Cloud Atlas. To conduct this analysis, after clearly mapping a history of Hoban's philosophical perspectives and Mitchell's intertextual genre-poaching practice, I will assess the degree to which Mitchell's metatextual methods indicate a nostalgia for by-gone radical aesthetics rather than reaching for new modes of its own. In conclusion, I will propose several new backdrops against which Mitchell's novel can be read (both philosophical and literary from Hoban's expanded canon) but also conduct the first in-depth appraisal of Mitchell's formal linguistic replication of Riddley Walker.

Keywords:David Mitchell, Russell Hoban, Cloud Atlas
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:13822
Deposited On:16 Apr 2014 07:24

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