'Looking down time's telescope at myself': reincarnation and global futures in David Mitchell's fictional worlds
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This essay explores the trope of reincarnation across the works of British author David Mitchell (b.1969) as an alternative approach to linear temporality, whose spiralling cyclicality warns of the dangers of seeing past actions as separate from future consequences, and whose focus on human interconnection demonstrates the importance of collective, intergenerational action in the face of ecological crises. Drawing on the Buddhist philosophy of samsara, or the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, this paper identifies links between the author’s interest in reincarnation and its secular manifestation in the treatment of time in his fictions. These works draw on reincarnation in their structures and characterisation as part of an ethical approach to the Anthropocene, using the temporal model of ‘reincarnation time’ as a narrative strategy to demonstrate that a greater understanding of generational interdependence is urgently needed in order to challenge the linear ‘end of history’ narrative of global capitalism.
Harris-Birtill , R 2017 , ' 'Looking down time's telescope at myself': reincarnation and global futures in David Mitchell's fictional worlds ' KronoScope: The Journal for the Study of Time , vol 17 , no. 2 , pp. 163-181 . DOI: 10.1163/15685241-12341382
KronoScope: The Journal for the Study of Time
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2017. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created manuscript and as such may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685241-12341382
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