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The Iterable Messiah: Postmodernist Mythopoeia in Cloud Atlas

Published in
Volume: 6
Issue: 3

This article explores the interplay between two seemingly contrary impulses in David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas: the mythopoeic and the postmodernist. Specifically, the article focuses on the novel’s postmodernist refiguration of the biblical myth of deliverance. Merging its biblical messianism with Nietzsche’s trope of Eternal Recurrence, the novel arrives at the figure of the eternally recurrent messiah. This article argues that the novel’s enigmatic leitmotif—the comet birthmark—serves as a symbol not only for Cloud Atlas’s recurrent messiah, but also for its interpretation of the biblical messiah as iterable, in the poststructuralist sense. The article concludes by identifying the novel’s postmodernist mythopoeia as an instance of metamodernism.

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