Cloud Atlas

by David Mitchell | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0375507256 Global Overview for this book
Registered by booklemur on 9/4/2004
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
17 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by booklemur on Saturday, September 04, 2004
This fantastic novel involves six stories, five of them told in 2 parts each (the overall setup is 12345654321), and progresses from the 17th century tothe far future. To say anything more would be to give the plot (or, more importantly, the themes) away.


Journal Entry 3 by BlossomU on Wednesday, September 15, 2004
A surprise! Thank you booklemur, this made my day ( or my week, or possibly a lot more days when I read it), I will get a couple other things read first, but then i will get right at this. Thanks Thanks Thanks!

Journal Entry 4 by BlossomU on Saturday, October 02, 2004
Just read and wow it was as good as I hoped, it did not fell flat. The scheme of reading is unusual, and if I ever reread this, I will want to read 1-1 (first and last chapter) then 2-2 and so on and try to pick up threads in narrative carrying over. i get a distinct feeling I did not get all threads or possible connections ( women arranging saintpaulias, where does that show up again, places in Hawaii with possible connections to different bits of the narrative), and the author uses all that to make a reflection on human nature and civilization. I thought the first pacific narrative the most eloquent, there is real rage there against such atrocities done by "civilized" and "uncivilized" to weaker cultures. The rest all is slightly different, in narrative tone ( Mitchell uses all sort of different things, diaries, letters, interview, third person narration, first person narration) different aspects and it all works very well as a whole, a concert for six instruments so to speak.

A quote I have to record here

"Mother used to say escape is never further than the nearest book. Well Mumsy, no, not really. Your beloved large print sagas of rags, riches and heartbreak were no camouflage against the misteries trained on you by the tennis ball launchers of life, were they? But yes, there again, you have a point. Books do not offer real escape but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw"

oh, yes, that is how I feel, perfectly put. I was a bit too stressed when reading this to catch everything I wanted to catch there, but it stopped my mind scratching itself raw, and gave me food for thought and considering and puttings things in their historical and social perspective.

Many thanks booklemur! Book is all ready for a bookray if you want to start one.

Journal Entry 5 by BlossomU on Wednesday, November 10, 2004
I got no further news from booklemur ( hi!), and so am sending the book out, first to Fellraven in the UK, and then as a bookray.

A warning, this bookray is very international, and I am taking new members anytime, so I really can not control if a member is going to have to ship internationally or not, it all depends if somebody in the same country asks to join after that member or not. A new member might have to ship this book internationally, this is a small ( if somewhat thick) paperback and the cheapest shipping is absolutely totally fine as a shipping method.

Please try to not keep this book for longer than 6 weeks, if when contacted you are swamped with other bookrays please give it a pass and ask me to include you later on!

Bookray order is
  1. Fellraven, UK
  2. Robert-walker, UK
  3. d-o-m, UK
  4. Kylara70, UK
  5. Koalabare, UK
  6. dodau, UK
  7. Hero, Ireland
  8. Powerhouse, Netherlands
  9. Biba89, Netherlands
  10. Katayoun, Iran
  11. Tantan, Australia
  12. Xana, Belgium
  13. sqdancer, Canada
  14. eriko1908, USA
  15. AnnaLibrarian, USA
  16. Zugenia, USA
  17. Eucalia, USA

Book shipped out to Fellraven November 11th.

Journal Entry 6 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Saturday, November 20, 2004
Received in this morning's post - many thanks. I'll start on it over this weekend!

Journal Entry 7 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Monday, December 20, 2004
Finally finished today, having taking longer than I expected. An extraordinarily rich book and, as BlossomU comments, one in which threads and themes carry over not only between the two halves of each of the constituent stories, but also between those stories themselves. For example, San Francisco's Silvaplana Wharf is not only mentioned in both halves of "The First Luisa Rey Mystery" but also in the second half of "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing"; Ewing's journal ends in Hawaii which is also the venue of the entire sixth story, and so on. "Cloud Atlas" is not so much a series of stories as a series of eddies and whirlpools in which ideas swirl around and somersault over each other. BlossomU is right though - this is a book which would probably need to be read several times to pick up all the threads and eddies, and it's more than good enough to warrant the re-reading.

I suggest it would also be fair to describe "Cloud Atlas" as an extended and complex parable which opens in the colonial era when corporatism was born and proceeds via a society in which corporation and state have become as one (essentially McDonalds under North Korean management) to a distant future in which the ultimate outcome of corporate greed and the intellectual laziness and complacency of consumers has destroyed the planet and led to the complete collapse of civilisation, and then meanders all the way back again. In short, it is a warning to us, now, today, about the actions and attitudes which afflict us and the future we are creating. It is, perhaps, best to leave on a prescient comment by Adam Ewing on the second to last page:

"Tortuous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president's pen or a vainglorious general's sword."

I don't imagine it's coincidence that the name given to the Devil, the Tempter, the Adversary, in Mitchell's post-Apocalyptic remnants of human society is "Old Georgie".

A final comment at this stage - I have agreed with the next reader, Robert-Walker, to hold on to the book until the New Year in order to avoid any extra risk of its being lost in the Christmas post. Robert assures me he has other bookrings and rays to read ahead of this anyway so it seems the wisest thing to do. I will journal again when the book has been posted.

Journal Entry 8 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 04, 2005
As promised, posted today to Robert-Walker.

Journal Entry 9 by R-W from Rotherham, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 05, 2005
This book arrived this morning, thanks BlossomU for including me in this ring, and thanks to Fellraven for passing it on. I have a couple of rings in front of this, but i promise to get to it real fast.

Journal Entry 10 by R-W from Rotherham, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Saturday, January 29, 2005
I have just completed this wonderful book, tho the readers before me have expressed much better than i ever could the delights contained within this book.
This may be a collection of six different naratives, but yet each intrinsic to the whole.
Has as been mentioned before, i again would like to read this book, but read it in chronological order, 1-1, 2-2 etc so i can enhance my overall view of the book. And so i'm left wondering if this a plus or a minus in David Mitchell's writing skills. Is it a minus that i should feel as though i have to go back and read the book again at some point? or is it a plus that i want to read the book again but from another angle?..i don't know.
After all said and done, it is a real good read.

The book i read before this, and i did not plan it this way, was called 'The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power' by Joel Bakan, which tells of the 'corporations' begining in colonial times with the slave ships, to the power hungry, money hungry, trample over people whatever the cost corporation that we see today.

Could Cloud Atlas be somewhat apocryphal?

Journal Entry 11 by R-W from Rotherham, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Monday, January 31, 2005
Now on its way to d-o-m. I've included the postcard provided by Fellraven as it is such a nice picture.

Journal Entry 12 by tagesmann on Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Received today.
I have another ray book to read and then I will start this one.

Friday 4 March. Finally starting this book. Hopefully it will go smoothly.

Journal Entry 13 by tagesmann on Friday, April 01, 2005
Well I enjoyed this, I'm just not sure why. I found myself involved in all of the characters except Adam Ewing whose Pacific Journal was somehow lacking. My favourite was Letters from Zedelghem, however I totally failed to understand how they related to the greater theme. I liked the splitting of the stories and would not like to have read them in a more linear fashion.

Journal Entry 14 by tagesmann on Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Posted to Kylara70 today

Journal Entry 15 by kylara70 from Warner Robins, Georgia USA on Sunday, April 10, 2005
Bookray victim :) Just kidding. I recievd this in the mail this week and have already started it. Intriguing so far! :)

I will get through it in ther next couple of weeks and have it on it's way on the 1st of May.

Carol O.

Journal Entry 16 by Koalabare from Fetcham, Surrey United Kingdom on Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Received this morning - thanks kylara70 for sending it on and BlossomU for organising this!

I'm half way through another bookray atm - this will be next up after that.

17/7/05 - Another 2 chapters to go and I've PM'd the next person for their address. Will journal properly when done.

Journal Entry 17 by Koalabare from Fetcham, Surrey United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Ah, now I remember why I like David Mitchell!

A clever, thought-provoking book that is ingeneously put together. I think earlier journallers have said most of what I was thinking - I would certainly want to get my own copy and re-read this in the future.

I agree with d-o-m about the Letters from Zedelghem - this was one of my favourite passages and nope, how they fitted in to the rest was beyond me, too! My favourite parts of all were the Sonmi chapters - horrific yet in some ways wholly believable, and echoed (foretold?) in the last Ewing section where the Polynesians were taught to smoke tobacco.

Thanks again to BlossomU for organising this and giving me the chance to read this book - I'm very glad I did!

I have dodau's address and will be sending it on in the next couple of days.

20/7/05 - Posted to dodau

Journal Entry 18 by dodau from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire United Kingdom on Friday, July 22, 2005
Arrived this morning along with 5 others.

Journal Entry 19 by dodau from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire United Kingdom on Sunday, July 31, 2005
Can someone pm me and tell me exactly what this book is about. I've read it now and am still none the wiser. I kept going to the end hoping it was one of those that everything was revealed in the last chapter but no.
Hero has asked to be skipped so pming Powerhouse.

Journal Entry 20 by dodau at Surface Mail in Fellow Bookcrosser, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases on Monday, August 08, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (8/8/2005 UTC) at Surface Mail in Fellow Bookcrosser, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases



Journal Entry 21 by biba89 from Olst, Overijssel Netherlands on Friday, August 12, 2005
This arrived at my doorstep today. I have heard so much about it! Now what a coincidence, I just finished a book this morning.

Journal Entry 22 by biba89 from Olst, Overijssel Netherlands on Saturday, September 10, 2005
It took a while for me to get into this book, partly because of all the thrilling journals before it. I was afraid my hopes were too high. Which after all they appeared not to be. First of all, I love finding an attitude this critical in a book this brilliant. And secondly, I feel that after having enjoyed reading it so much, there are still enough hidden treasures to enjoy a second read.
A few quotes:
- from the dinner table, with Luisa and the indistinguishable Henderson triplets: "I'd establish our country's rightful - corporate - empire. Because if we don't do it, the Japs'll steal the march. The corporation is the future. We need to let the business run the country and establish a true meritocracy. Not choked by welfare, unions, "affirmative action" for amputated transvestite colored homeless arachnophobes... A meritocracy of acumen. A culture that is not ashamed to acknowledge that wealth attracts power, and that the wealthmakers, *us*, are rewarded. When a man aspires to power, I ask one simple question: does he think like a businessman?"
Luisa rolls her napkin into a compact ball. "I ask three simple questions. How did he get that power? How is he using it? And how can it be taken off the sonofabitch?"
(and this after being showed, in earlier stories, what that can come to look like. Nice.)

Robert Frobisher and Morty Dhondt are talking politics, specifically war. "Our will to power, our science, and those very faculties that elevated us from apes, to savages, to modern man, are the same faculties that'll snuff out Homo Sapiens before this century is out! You'll probably live to see it happen, you fortunate son."

And then there is the discussion about the superiority of the Aryan race. "Why do white races hold dominion over the world, if not by divine grace?"
"Since Agincourt, the white man has refined and evolved the gunpowder sciences until our modern armies may field muskets by the tens of thousands! Aha, you will ask, But why us Aryans? Why not the Unipeds of Ur or the Mandrakes of Mauritius? Beacuse, of all the races, our love, or rather our rapacity, for treasure, gold, spices and dominion, oh, most of all, sweet dominion, is the keenest, the hungriest, the most unscrupulous! This rapacity, yes, powers our Progress, for ends infernal or divine I know not."

Actually, it was a combination of 'guns, germs and steel', geographical coincidences combined with this greed for dominion which gave the Aryan race a step ahead. To be found in another book, by Jared Diamond. See, I delved into this matter as well.

In the end, there is this very clear message. At the risk of giving away spoilers, this is something which cannot be underlined enough.
"If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth and claw, if we believe divers races and creeds can share this world peaceably, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable and the riches of this earth and its oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Tortuous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president's pen or a vainglorious general's sword.
A life spent shaping a world I want my son to inherit, not one I fear my son will inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living. Upon my return, I will pledge myself to the Abolitionist cause, because I owe my life to a self-freed slave and because I must begin somewhere."

So the question is this: what kind of a world do we want our children to live in? And how do we help shaping it that way, day by day? This is the most important question David Mitchell, or indeed anyone, can ask us. We just need to answer.

I will send this book on to Iran, to the next reader on the list.


Cloud Atlas goes in the mail towards Iran. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 24 by wingkatayounwing from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Tuesday, September 27, 2005
thanks blossomu and thanks Biba89, the book is here. as this is from blossomu and as i've wanted to read this for a while now, i must say that i am very excited! just got one book on reading pile and then it's this.

Journal Entry 25 by wingkatayounwing from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Wednesday, September 28, 2005
started reading

Journal Entry 26 by wingkatayounwing from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Monday, October 17, 2005
on it's way to tantan, will come back and make a more complete journal entry, now i only have time to say thanks blossomu and it was wonderful.

Journal Entry 27 by tantan from Montréal, Québec Canada on Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Received today from katayoun. I've got a couple of other bookrings in front of it, but hopefully they shouldn't take me too long.

Journal Entry 28 by tantan from Montréal, Québec Canada on Thursday, November 24, 2005
Just a quick update. I've started this one, and am enjoying it so far although it's definitely not a quick read. It shouldn't take me too long to get through.

Journal Entry 29 by tantan from Montréal, Québec Canada on Sunday, December 11, 2005
Well, this took me a full three weeks to get through, but I would say this is one of the best books I've read all year. Unlike a few others I really enjoyed the way the stories were set out, and would not have liked to read each story individually. I felt divisions in each story helped to catch on to a lot more of the connections as I was constantly picking up on things which I'd seen in the other narratives. I think An Orison of Sonmi-451 was one of my favourite sections, as I love books and stories which challenge me to think about what our world could become - possibly why Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favourite books. I won't even begin to pretend that I caught on to all the connections between the stories, but that gives me an excuse to hopefully read this again in the future. I'd like to close with the book's closing lines which are so simple, yet so true:

"...& only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean! Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"


This will be heading off to Xana as soon as I have an address.


Edit December 14th, 2005: Posted off to Xana this afternoon via Economy Air.

Journal Entry 30 by Xana from Genève, Genève Switzerland on Thursday, December 22, 2005
Just arrived in Brussels and in 12 hours it will travel to Mother-city Lisbon for the holidays.

Thanks tantan! I'm looking forward to this one :)

Journal Entry 31 by Xana from Genève, Genève Switzerland on Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I’ve finished it a while ago, but only today I had time to post in to Canada. God's speed, little book :)

So far it’s the best of the year, but that’s not saying much after only 5 read. I liked the originality of the plot and I’m sure I would notice many more details on a second reading. Also admired how the author adaptaded his language to the circumstances.

Usually the hints had a previous explanation, but I didn’t get the “Old George”. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Journal Entry 32 by sqdancer on Thursday, February 09, 2006
Arrived safe and sound. I have two rings ahead of it, but I am already halfway through one of them. I will definitely have it moved along within the stipulated six weeks, likely within four weeks.

Journal Entry 33 by sqdancer on Monday, March 27, 2006
Enjoyed it very much. I found the structure intriguing. I don't really have anything more to add to the previous, extensive journal entries. As some others have mentioned before, I definitely think it warrants a re-read.

Sorry for the delay in getting it into the post. We have be very short-handed at work, and I haven't been able to get to the post office until today.

Sent today via air mail.

Journal Entry 34 by eriko1908 from Plymouth, Minnesota USA on Sunday, April 09, 2006
Book arrived safely in MN this week...have started it already & am enjoying already...

Journal Entry 35 by eriko1908 from Plymouth, Minnesota USA on Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Mailed this one off the other day...was slow reading, but I really enjoyed the story...thanks for sharing it...

Journal Entry 36 by AnnaLibrarian from Richmond, Virginia USA on Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Yay! The book is here. I will try to read it soon.

Journal Entry 37 by Eucalia from Issaquah, Washington USA on Friday, June 23, 2006
This book arrived in Seattle today! I have two books to read before this one, but I'll get to it as soon as I can. Thanks for sending this to me!

Journal Entry 38 by Eucalia from Issaquah, Washington USA on Friday, July 21, 2006
I started reading this book two days ago at the airport. My flight was delayed 6 hours so I'm nearly halfway through. I have no idea where the story(ies) are going and my curiosity is totally piqued! Can't wait to finish!

Journal Entry 39 by Eucalia at Bookray in BOOKRAY, Bookray -- Controlled Releases on Monday, December 11, 2006

Released 13 yrs ago (12/9/2006 UTC) at Bookray in BOOKRAY, Bookray -- Controlled Releases



Thanks so much for sharing this book with me! I found it to be very interesting the way all the stories came together in the end.

After a long delay I have finally sent this book on to indygo88 who has it on her wishlist with the understanding that when she is done with it she will send it on to someone else. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 40 by indygo88 from Lafayette, Indiana USA on Thursday, December 14, 2006
It's here! Thanks so much for the RABCK, Eucalia! You're great! And such a well-traveled book! It's going on Mt. TBR currently, but I'll try not to hold off too long to read it, and then will indeed pass it along. Thanks again!

3/18/07 -- Loaned out to Mom.

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