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Location, location, location

Global ou local : la question de l’espace chez David Mitchell
Claire Larsonneur
p. 141-152


Les trois premiers romans du Britannique David Mitchell (Ghostwritten, Number9dream et Cloud Atlas publiés entre 1999 et 2004) se distinguent par une structure narrative audacieuse basée sur une multiplicité de lieux, répartis sur l’ensemble du globe et au travers desquels est diffractée l’intrigue. L’espace tel qu’il le représente joue simultanément sur les globalia (autant de non-lieux standardisés et déterritorialisés) et les localia (emblèmes hypertrophiés de la localité), faisant ainsi écho à la notion de co-spatialité avancée par le géographe français Jacques Lévy. Cette dualité est renforcée par la mise en scène au sein de la narration même d’une co-existence entre représentations textuelles et représentations audio-visuelles de l’espace. Prenant les critiques et le public à contre-pied, le dernier ouvrage de Mitchell, Black Swan Green qui retrace 13 mois de la vie d’un adolescent anglais à la campagne et au début des années 80, renoue apparemment avec des choix plus classiques.

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1Over the last forty years, globalisation has arguably become a major force affecting not only the economy but also our representations of reality. Not only are key political and economic issues closely interwoven on an international scale but more to the point, we are kept aware of major (or minor) events over the world in a continuous flow of instant information. Such a state of affairs has already been widely commented but rarely with such precision as in the words of sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in his seminal 2000 essay, Liquid Modernity (Bauman 13):

in the fluid stage of modernity, the settled majority is ruled by the nomadic and exterritorial elite. Keeping the roads free for nomadic traffic and phasing out the remaining check points has now become the meta-purpose of politics, and also of wars.

2This process has been redefining in depth our conception of time and place, and the very notion of location. Distance and time zones are seen as increasingly irrelevant to the current processes of economics and politics in a world where access via electronic devices (Wi-fi, Blackberry, YouTube, FaceBook. . .) has taken precedence over physical exchanges. But, and paradoxically, this global village also appears extremely fragmented due to the nature of the media channelling information: the use of sound-bites, one-minute or one-sentence news tickers or niche websites all testify to this tendency. The dominant mode of representation, at least in the Western countries and the developed Asian countries, appears thus increasingly based on networks and mediated via screens, instead of based on place and mediated via texts and maps. So much so that is it affecting the practices and theory of geography, where some have been calling for a “radical turn in map making” (Lévy 129–144), faced with the challenge of accounting for two co-existing logics, that of location and that of network, and the advent of a plurality of metrics. When the emphasis is no longer on measuring spaces but on tracking the state of flow between hubs, the crux of our relation to location may no longer be to delineate frontiers. On the contrary it may have to account primarily for the interplay between networks, their hubs and their links on the one hand, and the underlying blank canvas, all the unconnected substrata on the other hand.

  • 1 His experience can be measured up against that of the 600,000 young British men in their twenties t (...)
  • 2 Selected as one of Granta‘s best of Young British Novelists in 2003, Mitchell was listed in the 100 (...)

3Writers of our 21st century, on the look-out for the angle through which they will strive to depict and make sense of society, are thus faced with a double challenge: articulating the local and the global on the one hand, articulating physical and virtual realities on the other hand. In this respect, the work of young British author, David Mitchell, is particularly interesting. Out of his four novels up to now, two are complex narrations explicitly drawing on a network of international locations, Ghostwritten (1999) and Cloud Atlas (2004); two recount a formative period in the life of an adolescent, a Japanese orphan in Number9dream (2001) and a stammering English boy in Black Swan Green (2006). Mitchell, born in 1969 and brought up in Worcestershire, moved to Japan in his twenties where he taught for several years and is now established in Ireland. His stance would thus coincide with that of the expatriate, albeit in a very different context from the travelling writers of the 1930’s or their predecessors embarked on the Grand Tour. His experience is neither that of the elite seeking status through cultural tourism, nor that the politically motivated artist/journalist. Mitchell’s curriculum would more aptly be described as fitting the Study and Work Abroad Team,1 which corresponds to a massive phenomenon in today’s Britain and could be defined as transitory voluntary exile. One may assume such an experience will have nourished the recurring tension throughout his work between what we may call globalia and local colour, non-spaces and exoticism. One may also wonder to what extent this internationally acclaimed fictional work2 feeds upon and revisits the hallmarks of Englishness for “birth deals us a hand of cards, but as important as their value is the place we are dealt them in” (Mitchell 1999, 322).

4Airports, hotel or corporate lobbies, urban wastelands, dilapidated docks, shopping malls and railway stations abound in Mitchell’s novels. Together they constitute the figureheads of our global modernity: they act as instances of what I term globalia, distinctive spaces that share identical characteristics and functions throughout the world. The very idea of globalia runs contrary to the notion of location by annihilating the importance of geographical coordinates and focusing instead on interchangeable features. The following description (Mitchell 2001, 189) emphasizes this point since the place, though recognizable, cannot be pinned down on a map:

  • 3 . Globalia here differs slightly from the notion of non-space that was introduced by Marc Augé and (...)

Three Cadillacs glide down the fast lane. A nowhere land, not city, not country. Access roads, service stations, warehouses [. . .] We enter a tunnel. The roof lights barcode-scan across the windscreen. Mighty ventilators hang from the tunnel roof. I should not be in this nightmare. Though at that point the narration suggests this scene might take place in Tokyo, the end of the novel will even question this spatial reference by casting doubt over the very status of this first-person narrative, oscillating between dream and reality. This in turn might be read as a comment upon the reality value of globalia.3 Questioning the identity or the status of specific locations is a recurring feature in Mitchell’s writings, through a variety of devices such as intra-diegetic commentary or non-descript descriptions such as “non-coloured suburbs of rerun cities.” (Mitchell 2001, 390)

5Optical schemes are also used to further distort our perception of space. For instance the description of Tokyo will rely on the image of mirroring structures and stage how the eye, entrapped by this play on reflected reflections, will fall short of a stable panorama:

Tokyo is so close up you cannot always see it. No distances. Everything is over your head—dentists, kindergartens, dance studios. Even the roads and walkways are up on murky stilts. Venice with the water drained away. Reflected airplanes climb over mirrored buildings. (Mitchell 2001, 3)

6In Cloud Atlas, Mitchell will combine the play on the gaze and the possibilities offered by sci-fi to construct a bird’s eye view of Seoul in which actual space has been obliterated by projected images and hearsay (Mitchell 2004, 236):

From the two-hundred-and-thirty-fourth story, the conurb was a fog of xenon and neon and motion and carbdiox and canopies. But for the glass-dome, Hae-Joo told me, the wind at this altitude would launch us away like runaway kites. He indicated various humpbacks and landmarks, some of which I had heard of or seen on AdV and 3D. Chongmyo Plaza was hidden behind a monolith, but its stadium was visible: an open day-blue eye. SeedCorp was the lunar sponsor that nite. The immense lunar projector of far-off Fuji beamed AdV after AdV on to the moon’s face.

7Interestingly, the corporate building in which much of the action takes place in Number9dream is called Panopticon and could be described as an “emic space”, defined in Liquid Modernity (Bauman 98) as a form of location that vomits difference—in this case the building physically ejects the unfortunate Eiji. The chapter devoted to Hong Kong in Ghostwritten may also be read along these lines since first the flat, then the island, literally and physically repel the British expatriates, Kate and Neal. These “emic spaces” here function alternatively with “phagic spaces”, places that devour foreign bodies to integrate them fully, to digest them into sameness: shopping malls for instance, or the underground of the first chapter in Ghoswritten. Landscapes may also fall prey to the same phenomenon (Mitchell 2004, 460):

Passed through a place called Poelkapelle or some such, down an avenue of elms lasting mile after mile. Dhondt chose this straight to push the Bugatti as fast as she would go. Individual elms blurred into a single tree repeated to infinity, like a spinning top.

8By articulating globalia with localia instead of bluntly opposing them, Mitchell offers us a more subtle, and scathing, representation of modern spatiality. For all their unsettling, disorienting blandness, globalia still set the background for defining moments of self-searching whereas localia (spaces of hypertrophic geographical and historical quality, such as the native island of Eiji, Kageshima) often appear as frauds, biased recollections of the past or theatrical stages, “customary humbuggery” (Mitchell 2004, 512). Mitchell’s heavy reliance on clichés such as the futons and the sushi in Japan, the rain in England, the size of American fridges etc., raises our exotic expectations and ruins them, through overexposure and by framing them as imported representations. “I suppose we have the missionaries to thank for naming these mountains ‘The Japan Alps’. Why do people always have to compare things with abroad? (Like Kagoshima, the Naples of Japan, that always set my teeth on edge.) Nobody knows what the locals used to call the mountains before anyone knew the Alps, or even Europe, was out there” (Mitchell 2001, 250). Such direct criticism of the exotic stance (here by Eiji) doubles up in the form of intra-diegetic commentary by Neal Brose (Mitchell 2004, 460):

I suspected Katy was on a culture-bridging kick, and had chosen penetrating the Chinese psyche as a hobby. If that suspicion had been correct, then for Katy it badly backfired.

9Further criticism of exoticism is carried out by inverting the point of view from Westerners to Asians. In his diary (Mitchell 2001, 311), Eiji’s uncle recalls a jazz “musician’s name is Jyu Keringuton. How strange to be listening to American jazz before setting out to kill Americans”. This particular device, at times blown out of proportion, relies upon the grotesque to debunk exoticism while at the same time anchoring the novel in the tradition of traveller’s tales (tall tales, rather). The old Chinese lady who is the main character of one of Ghostwritten’s chapters will thus characterize Westerners in extravagant, lurid terms (Mitchell 1999, 134):

When I saw my first foreigner, I didn’t know what to feel! He—I guessed it was a he—loomed big as an ogre, and his hair was yellow! Yellow as healthy piss! […] They will enslave their own kind, and are always fighting each other. They believe evil is good. They eat their own babies and love the taste of shit and only wash every two months. Their language sounds like farting pigs.

  • 4 According to Jacques Lévy, “une des grandes questions que l’aménagement tente de résoudre sur des e (...)

10This constant subversion of the discourse on the other by the narrative, as exemplified by the characters themselves, through intra-diegetic commentary and via inverted points of views, paves the way for a much more subtle approach to local colour in the form of the crossover. By crossover I mean the fact that some characters or places will adopt modes of expression, types of behaviour or even physical traits that may be considered defining features of another culture. For instance the description of Japanese soldiers in Number9Dream will focus on their stiff upper lip; the house in which Eiji takes refuge sounds like the typical English cottage, complete with roses, pond and lush carpets (Mitchell 1999,100). By transplanting street signs from England to Tokyo, such as NO RIGHT OF WAY or MEMBERS ONLY (Mitchell 2001, 40), or sound bites such as “Stand clear of the doors” (Mitchell 1999, 429) and cultural references—Eiji watches the nine o’clock news and dreams of a Liverpool pilgrimage—Mitchell activates networks of references that are literally delocalised and partially superimposed. The figure of England is then explicitly called for and combined with most of these exotic locations. In doing so, he builds up a form of co-spatiality, echoing thus the analysis of French geographer Jacques Lévy when commenting upon the new scientific challenges to our modes of representing space (Lévy 139).4 This notion of co-spatiality enables us to pinpoint the specificity of these spatial networks that organize the co-existence of locations while restricting them to a limited set of features and, in a way, barring them from any form of evolution. Hence the sense of unease triggered by the description of the Japanese countryside:

Land cleared of trees in a week, levelled in a month, asphalted in an afternoon—forgotten ever since. Cracked, greened, smothered and uprooted. Lines and wires, sagging and tautening from pole to pole, fingers of speed jamming on a loose-strung guitar (Mitchell 2001, 389–390).

  • 5 “Un territoire est toujours en voie de déterritorialisation, au moins potentielle, en voie de passa (...)

11Even grammatically, we are faced here with an absence of subject, impersonal actions leading to a permanent state of being as expressed by the past participle. In other words the text echoes the static quality of globalia, which require that each of the hubs of the web remain uniform and stable to function properly. The lines and wires of the description, though they crisscross the landscape, are very different from the dynamic lines of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation evoked by Deleuze and Guattari5: Mitchell here clearly underlines how the life and dynamics have been scooped out of the land, trapped and sterilised in the spokes and nodal points of the global network.

12The disquieting and deadly quality of these partially superimposed networks of set spatial features may only be relieved through the work of language. Not surprisingly then, intertextual references abound and are called for in most instances of globalia. The shopping mall in Number9dream shapes up as an artificial in situ intertextual hub conflating urban development, Coleridge’s poem and various mythical paradises: A basement shopping mall will connect Xanadu with Valhalla and Nirvana. It is still a gloomy underpass, lit by road workers’ lamps, and strewn with tarpaulin, tiles, wood planking, sheet glass and a prematurely delivered army of boutique dummies huddled naked in misty polythene” (Mitchell 2001, 184). The intertextual quality of spatial representation in Mitchell’s novels would be a subject per se, but we will focus here on one aspect, namely screen intertextuality. Action movies, horror movies, period pieces and live footage crop up regularly in Mitchell’s novels. One may even argue that the six narratives of Cloud Atlas refer to specific subgenres: the Robinson Crusoe period film, the industrial thriller, the Mad Max sci-fi etc. Conversely much could be said of the aesthetic proximity between Mitchell’s world and Alejandro Inarritu’s films such as 21 grams and Babel, where the narrative line depends upon a range of stories set in different locations, unfolding almost simultaneously and interconnecting.

13If however we pursue the analysis, one cannot but remark that the interplay between on- and off-screen affects space in Mitchell’s novels: one could almost say it contaminates some locations. The pun on the name of Fuji in the above mentioned aerial view of Seoul, by referring both to the famous mountain and to the producer of photographic film, fuses both realities. Several descriptions in Number9Dream offset reality by referring to a screen:

I sit down. Amadeus Tea Room continues in the background, as if on a video screen. (Mitchell 2001, 139) or “It is Europe Week in McDonald’s—a video screen hangs on the wall, and scenes of Rome glide by while soporific music sucks you in” (Mitchell 2001, 329).

  • 6 The exact quotation reads: “Il faut bien constater que se mêlent quotidiennement sur les écrans de (...)
  • 7 In the chapter on war propaganda Salmon evokes what he calls “la querelle du réalisme”: “En 1997, d (...)
  • 8 The character of the Goatwriter embodies this systematic strategy of a blurred interplay between fa (...)

14Such blurring of the distinction between on-screen and off-screen reality is even thematised by one of the characters of Ghostwritten, Mo Mundervary when commenting about the pre-emptive strikes in Irak (Mitchell 1999, 323): “John phoned from Clear Island.” “This isn’t news, it’s sports coverage. Have so many films been made about hi-tech war that hi-tech war is now a film? It’s product placement.” One might argue that the representation of space in Mitchell’s novels showcases the effects of the screen-based culture, insofar as our perception of reality is increasingly mediated by an apparently homogeneous flow of information that blends together fiction and non-fiction. This would recoup the point of view of sociologist Marc Augé commenting upon the blending of genres (Augé 45)6 but also that of writer and essayist Christian Salmon in his analysis of the storytelling techniques the media apply to politics, documentaries and even news, especially his analysis of the marketing and military practices of building up a simulacrum that not only mimics but strives to replace reality (Salmon 150).7 The recurring chiasmus between fiction and reality, screen and text introduces what I’d like to call the “aesthetics of the déjà vu”. In Number9dream (Mitchell 2001, 225), actual TV footage from CNN for instance lies dormant within the embedded fantasy-world parodic tale of the Goatwriter,8 shaping a scene that will evoke Baghdad or Gaza to the reader:

The market town was a razed maze of clubbed rubble and treeless scree. The mosque on the hill had taken a direct hit, its innards lobotomized and its windows blasted out. The building gazed blankly over the town. Trams lay toppled and stripped. Abandoned children lay by the roadside, skin shrink-wrapped around protruding bones. (. . .) A white Jeep from a peacekeeping organization drove past, nearly running Mrs Comb over, taking lots of photographs and news footage. Mrs Comb came to an enormous statue reigning over the ruin. The Beloved Commander, read the plaque.

15These spatial crossovers between on-and off-screen feed upon hybrid techniques that may pertain both to textual and visual narratives. For instance, Mitchell extensively relies upon the techniques of replay and relay via the rewriting of iconic images or footage and the recurrence of characters or scenes from one novel to another. This is the very foundation of the plot in Ghostwritten where non-corporeal entities migrate from one character (and location) to another. One may also identify techniques of freeze and fold: mirroring effects between fantasy tales, dreams and realistic narratives in Number9dream would fall into that category together with the Russian doll structure of Cloud Atlas in which the first six chapters each end on a cliff-hanger to be taken up again and solved in the last six chapters. On could also mention techniques of edit and extend, relying upon elaborate displays of ventriloquism and massive intertextuality: for instance the narrative in Ghoswritten twice opens up unto a truncated version Yeats’s Innisfree poem (M1999, 291 and 366), first the last two stanza, then the first.

  • 9 David Hellman wrote for instance in the San Francisco Chronicle (April 9, 2006): “Black Swan Green (...)

16England remains however, throughout all this process of delocating space, debunking clichés, co-hosting and spatial networking, very much in the background of each of Mitchell’s novels. Be it under the guise of key characters (such as Neal Brose the lawyer or Jerome the queer ex-spy) or as the focus of some of the stories as the ‘Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish’ in Cloud Atlas. The dominant point of view, shared by most characters, used to be part nostalgic, part affectionately derogatory (“Dear Old Blighty”). But with the publication of his latest novel, Black Swan Green, Mitchell changed his tack and non-plussed most of his readers. The novel, which charts 13 months in the life of a teenager in the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire, treads a blurred line between fiction and autobiography and received mixed reviews, markedly more enthusiastic overseas9 than at home where the book was labelled “quotidian”, “routine” or with a focus that “feels too close-in”. But Black Swan Green also embarks on an exploration of the globalia/localia divide, albeit with a shift in emphasis. The novel is packed with period details from 1982–83, such as radio programmes and press headlines about the Falklands war, TV shows and food brands; it also compiles a list of quintessentially English features such as the school bus, the seaside resort, the local bridle-path, the posh estate, the A 40, etc. One of them would be of course the convenience store described as follows (Mitchell 2006, 75):

Mr Rhydd sticks Lucozade-yellow plastic sheets over his windows to stop the displays fading. But his ‘displays’ are only ever pyramids of canned pears, and the plastic sheets make inside his shop fell like a photograph from Victorian times. Hugo and I read the notices on the board for second-hand Lego, kittens needing homes, good-as-new washing machines for £10 O.N.O and ads promising you hundreds of extra pounds in your spare time.

17In this carefully constructed description, Mitchell juxtaposes a reference to historical roots (the Victorian times) to markers of the consumer society (brand names), while undermining the distinction between tokens of the past (the photographs) and distorting, opaque contraptions (the plastic sheets that protect and hide the displays). He also displaces an actual place name, Rhydd, turning it into a surname. Moreover, via the emphasis on notices, displays, slogans and logos, this particular instance of localia activates the codes of globalia. Indeed anthropologist Marc Augé demonstrated how spatial dimensions are obliterated in our modern non-places by an excess of verbal designation via signposts, directions, advertising and such (Augé 120–121). It may be the disquieting effect of Black Swan Green, especially to British readers, owes much to Mitchell’s precise portrayal of such fault lines in the landscape of England (Mitchell 2006, 259):

Old school dinners’ve been replaced this September by a cafeteria. A sign saying RITZ CAFETERIA OPERATED BY KWALITY KWISINE is bolted over the dining room door, though the reek of vinegar and frying hits you in the cloakrooms.

18The attention to detail and the fascination for the most lurid aspects of consumer society in this novel may be paralleled to the critical stance adopted by photographer Martin Parr, achieving an effect of instant recognition and unnerving oddity:

Over the English Channel the sticky afternoon was as turquoise as Head and Shoulder Shampoo. (211)

19The deliberate alternation between local features, turned into inhabited clichés and stamped with markers of globalisation, and such instances of globalia as the supermarket or game arcades, revisits the trope of the English countryside and destabilises the “shrine of memory”, delocating what we might call Heritage identity. For Black Swan Green offers us two distinct views of the English landscape set on a colliding course. One is fully immersed in fantasized historical reconstruction: “But best is the rumour that the bridle-path leads you to the foot of Pinnacle Hill, where, if you pick your way through toothy brambles and dark ivy and vicious stingers, you’ll find the mouth of an old tunnel. Go through that tunnel and you come out in Herefordshire. Near the obelisk. The tunnel’s been lost since olden times”. The other focuses on a neutral, emotionally detached and un-picturesque panorama (109):

I looked at what lay up the bridle-path; a lane snaking to Marl Bank and Castlemorton, fields, more fields, a glimpse of an old grey turret rising above the firs. Line of pylons. You could pick up details on the Malvern Hills now.

20In the conclusion to his essay, Marc Augé defined a place as a location that constructs identity, relations and history, contrary to a non-place that falls outside of the logics of identity, relation and history (Augé 100). Revisiting the notion of location which juxtaposes the logics of flux and roots, globalia and localia, David Mitchell presents us with a fascinating panorama of our changing relation to space, moving from self-evident situation to a complex and fluid experience in co-spatiality. But the main quality of his work is to show us how our representation of space interlocks with our relation to reality and to raise the question of our place and stance in an increasingly homogenized, pre-narrated cliché and constrained environment. Among possible answers to this unnerving challenge to the very human need to make sense of the world and to make it one’s own, his systematic exploration of a diversity of narrations may suggest the importance of voice as rooted in a rich intertextuality and history.

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Augé, Marc, Non lieux : introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité, Paris: Seuil, 1992.

Bauman, Zygmunt, Liquid Modernity, London: Polity Press, 2000.

Deleuze Gilles et Guattari, Félix, Mille plateaux, Paris : Éditions de Minuit, 1980.

Lévy, Jacques “Un tournant cartographique”, Ces territorialités qui se dessinent, dir. Debarbiaux et Vanier, Paris: L’Aube, 2002, 129–144.

Mitchell, David, Ghostwritten, London: Sceptre, 1999.

Mitchell, David, Number9Dream, London: Sceptre, 2001.

Mitchell, David, Cloud Atlas, London: Sceptre, 2004.

Mitchell, David, Black Swan Green, London: Sceptre, 2006.

Salmon, Christian, Storytelling, Paris: La Découverte, 2007.

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Note de fin

1 His experience can be measured up against that of the 600,000 young British men in their twenties that have been shown to go missing from the 2001 census, and are presumed to have enjoyed their gap year abroad. See Deborah Orr, “Where have all the young men gone? Abroad”, The Independent, October 1, 2002.

2 Selected as one of Granta‘s best of Young British Novelists in 2003, Mitchell was listed in the 100 Personalities of the Year by Time in 2007.

3 . Globalia here differs slightly from the notion of non-space that was introduced by Marc Augé and defined as facilities dedicated to a maximum circulation of people and goods. “Les non-lieux, ce sont aussi bien les installations nécessaires à la circulation accélérée des personnes et des biens (voies rapides, échangeurs, aéroports) que les moyens de transport eux-mêmes ou les grands centres commerciaux, ou encore les camps de transit prolongé où sont parqués les réfugiés de la planète” (Augé 48). Globalia imply both a form of extra- territorial location and a set of standard features systematically reproduced in any instance of the place.

4 According to Jacques Lévy, “une des grandes questions que l’aménagement tente de résoudre sur des espaces concrets consiste dans la meilleure articulation possible, la commutation la plus efficace et la plus acceptable entre des espaces qui pour être ‘superposés’ ne sont pas pour autant assurés de communiquer entre eux: le défi de la cospatialité (vivre dans des espaces qui communiquent) se pose pour la représentation cartographique, mais aussi, à l’instar de la contemporanéité (vivre des temps relies entre eux), pour la construction politique d’un être ensemble partagé”.

5 “Un territoire est toujours en voie de déterritorialisation, au moins potentielle, en voie de passage à d’autres agencements, quitte à ce que l’autre agencement opère une reterritorialisation (quelque chose qui vaut le chez-soi)... Nous avons vu que le territoire se constituait sur une marge de décodage affectant le milieu; nous voyons qu’une marge de déterritorialisation affecte le territoire lui-même. C’est une série de décrochages” (Deleuze et Guattari 402).

6 The exact quotation reads: “Il faut bien constater que se mêlent quotidiennement sur les écrans de la planète les images de l’information, celles de la publicité et celles de la fiction, dont ni le traitement ni la finalité ne sont identiques, au moins en principe, mais qui composent sous nos yeux un univers relativement homogène dans sa diversité.”

7 In the chapter on war propaganda Salmon evokes what he calls “la querelle du réalisme”: “En 1997, deux ans avant la création de l’ICT, une conférence a réuni à Monterrey (Californie) des spécialistes des jeux vidéo et des militaires en charge de l’entraînement des troupes. [...] Étrangement, [les désaccords] ne concernent pas des questions éthiques ou politiques (la participation d’Hollywood à une guerre contestée), et encore moins stratégiques (la conception de la guerre moderne): ils portent sur des questions esthétiques, plus précisément sur les conceptions respectives que se font les uns les autres du réalisme en matière de simulation, d’imitation ou d’immersion virtuelle.” ICT is a think tank, the Institute for Creative Technologies, founded in 1999 by the US Army’s Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command.

8 The character of the Goatwriter embodies this systematic strategy of a blurred interplay between fantasy, fiction and footage since it echoes the figure of the ghost-writer, both as journalist and novelist, whilst triggering memories of Alice in Wonderland or the Narnia Chronicle and of course Mitchell’s own Ghostwritten.

9 David Hellman wrote for instance in the San Francisco Chronicle (April 9, 2006): “Black Swan Green is a real break in form for David Mitchell, and a welcome one. His previous efforts have garnered him a reputation as a literary wunderkind, and the Oulipian complexity of works such as Number9Dream and Cloud Atlas have brought comparisons to the likes of Don DeLillo and Haruki Murakami. Those books deserved the praise they received, but they at times also exposed the often annoying postmodern tendency to be smart without being soulful. Black Swan Green is a different type of animal. With this novel, Mitchell has stripped away much of the surface flash without sacrificing intelligent prose and has created a genuinely pristine and personal work.”

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Claire Larsonneur, « Location, location, location », Études britanniques contemporaines, 37 | 2009, 141-152.

Référence électronique

Claire Larsonneur, « Location, location, location », Études britanniques contemporaines [En ligne], 37 | 2009, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2017, consulté le 27 avril 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/ebc.3692

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Claire Larsonneur

Université Paris 8.
Claire Larsonneur est maître de conférences en langue et traduction à l’Université Paris 8 de Vincennes à Saint Denis où elle intervient au sein du master de traduction T3L dans le parcours en ligne (traduction du web et du multimédia). Elle travaille en littérature britannique contemporaine, plus particulièrement sur les récits de voyage et la représentation de l’espace. Elle a publié deux ouvrages : Les Mots du Territoire (Dexia Editions, 2005) et La Recherche Internet en lettres et langues (Ophrys, 2008)

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Études britanniques contemporaines est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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