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Trailing Postmodernism: David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, Zadie Smith’s NW, and the Metamodern




This article examines David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (2004) and Zadie Smith's NW (2012) against recent theories of the post-postmodern. It argues that although both texts can be seen to be gesturing towards a reconstructive relationship with the absolute cynicism and scepticism of postmodernism neither represents a sustainable discontinuity with that late-twentieth-century mode. In this context, the essay challenges readings of Mitchell and Smith as representative of a metamodernism as that term is understood by critics such as Timotheus Vermeulen, Robin van den Akker, David James and Urmila Seshagiri. By referring to models suggested by Jean-Francois Lyotard, it suggests that the metamodern, as exemplified in the cases of Mitchell and Smith, represents a subsection of the postmodern rather than a clear break with it.

Acceptance Date Mar 8, 2018
Publication Date Oct 16, 2018
Journal English Studies
Print ISSN 0013-838X
Publisher Routledge
Pages 723-743
Keywords literary criticism, language studies, postmodernism
Publisher URL