This is a radio interview with David Mitchell with reference to Cloud Atlas
. The interviewer and show's host is Michael SIlverblatt who is an extraordinarily gifted and competent book reviewer. This is a very intellectual discussion which delves deeper into this book and Mitchell's style and intentions in writing it than any other interview I've read or seen.
This interview is what I imagine professional writers would talk about in private and makes a listener feel that they are eavesdropping and being given the very special privilege of insights unavailable to others. This is a long interview but every word is pure gold.
If you guys have not already listened to it I would heartily encourage you to do so. Very deep ... but fascinating.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pvhJy1dagw
-- December 1st, 2012, 6:30 am --Somni-451 : A possible interpretation of the ending
Please bear with me ... this may get a bit tedious.
The first stanza of American national anthem describes the scene of the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The narrator, Francis Scott Key was aboard ship in the harbor as the bombardment was taking place. As went the fate of the fort would go the fate of his new nation. His only knowledge of whether or not the fort had surrendered was the sight of the flag atop the fort's mast. If the flag was gone it would mean the fort had surrendered. The flashes of light from the exploding bombs which illuminated the sky were the only way he could monitor the battle. We Americans sing this song at the beginning of all our sporting events and other festivities much as other nations do, but I think we have come to sing the song by rote and do not give particular emphasis to the meaning as we sing it. There is one part of the song that always grabs at my throat and that is the line ... "Oh say, does that star-spangled banner YET wave, o're the land of the free, and the home of the brave?"
... This line is a question, and I always imagine these words coming from the mouths of all the Americans who have died in the service of the country. They are asking me and my fellow Americans if we used their sacrifice, if we valued it enough to build a great nation ... because they would never know. This thought both moves me and saddens me greatly.
When we come to the end of the Somni-451 story we are faced with a similar idea. Somni-451 is about to be led to her death. Her "Declarations" and in fact her entire sacrifice was based ironically on the inspiration she acquired from The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish
, a comedy, which she views from a "disney orison". She is allowed a last request and she asks to be able to see the conclusion of the disney. At this point in the story Somni does not know that Timothy DOES in fact succeed at his goal of freedom. Mitchell does not tell us but the inference is that she will learn of Timothy's success and will go to her death with hope that her efforts will also culminate in the outcome she desires ... and that will be a comforting thought both to her and to us, the reader.
-- February 1st, 2013, 1:59 am --
The movie was shown in my area for about a week when it first came out and then disappeared. I expected it to make a return at the second tier theaters but so far it has not. It was like a non-cinematic-event. I TOTALLY do not understand this. I often see outrageously bad movies with actors of no special standing, poor plots or ridiculous premises, and no books to support them linger at movie houses till I want to shout ENOUGH ALREADY !!! It seems as though there was a concerted effort made to keep this movie away from the public for some reason. It defies all logic to believe that a movie such as this, with the outstanding cast it contains, could fall off the charts this quickly without some outside manipulations.
I guess I shall have to wait till the DVD comes out to see it ... I hope you have better luck where you are.