Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2021

Department 1



The tradition of global disasters in literature is long-standing and David Mitchell contributes to that discussion. For him, the possibility of political, social, and environmental collapse is imminent based on patterns he traced throughout human history. One common thread Mitchell weaves throughout his works is the presence and the relevance of the apocalyptic. In his best known work, Cloud Atlas, Mitchell explores the cyclical trends of humanity across time and space, including the recurrence of predacity, cruelty, and systematic oppression. Rather than being overwhelmed by a nihilistic reality, Mitchell centers Cloud Atlas around recurring figures of revolution, resisting and fighting against those tendencies. Throughout the connected world of Mitchell’s novels, he explores the problem of truth and the soul and how they are inextricably tied with the reality of the apocalypse. The apocalypse in Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks becomes representative of the culmination of revelations and revolutions, and in that sense, it becomes a reminder of past truths and a warning about the future. Despite the harrowing path of humanity Mitchell depicts in his novels, he maintains optimism as he pushes back against postmodern conceptions of truth and the soul. The prominence of cycles within the narratives not only point to the eternity of evil and predatory forces but also suggest the recurrence of forces of resistance and a deep hope in the possibilities of the future.


English Honors Project

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.