Cloud Atlas was just stunning, folks. What an amazing read. I’m left so dizzy and disoriented by it that I hardly know what to say.
The elements of the book are so disparate (yet strung together so purposefully) that I think it’s natural to want to tie it all together. I think you could make a good case that the book is about enslavement and freedom. Every narrative in the story deals with captivity, humans that want to dominate other humans, and the longing to be free. The stories tackle issues of enslavement in such amazingly different ways, though–the first deals with it through colonialism, the second via prisons of the mind, the third by binding a character to a conspiracy from which she cannot look away from, the fourth by the portrayal of a high-security retirement home, the fifth and sixth through literal enslavement, and then back again until we re-reach colonialism.
I’m pretty sure you could also make a case that the book is all about how irrevocably humans are tied together. The comet birthmark appears on the shoulders of so many of the characters in the book, and seeing how the title refers to the book’s of mapping of souls, perhaps it’s a reference to some kind of cosmic link between souls past, present, and future. I would have to iron out that idea to make it smell less like hippie and more like literati.
May I just say I’m delighted to see that an EBSCO search through my school’s library’s academic search reveals works of criticism already published on this book? May I express my dismay at how few of these are available in PDF, instant gratification form? If anyone is doing some summer Christmas shopping, I would like to put in a request for a subscription to every literary journal on the planet. Expensive? Yes. But can you put a price on the look of joy on a little girl’s face?
Now that Cloud Atlas is consumed but not forgotten, I release all my literary energies on the eagerly-anticipated, sparkly package recently arrived from the happiest place not exactly on earth (Ebay)–The Master and Margarita!
Has this ever happened to you? In the course of conversation, someone uses a word you’ve never heard before. You look up the word and then go about your merry business. During the course of said merry business that same day, you hear the word again. Then twice that week. Then ten more times that month. The Master and Margarita is that word, for me. I’d never heard of it before last semester. My History of Russia teacher recommended it to me, and ever since, I’ve wondered how I’ve gone a week without hearing about it, let alone thirty years. It pops up everywhere. I’m very excited to read this and share my thoughts. I have two days to finish it (explanation and whining to come–stay tuned).