Today, my peer-reviewed journal article on the publishing history of the two substantially different versions of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas was published. You can read the full article in all its open access glory at the Open Library of Humanities. There’s also a press release about the work on Birkbeck’s main site. The Guardian has also run a great article with additional comments from David Mitchell.
What actually happened here, then? To cut to the chase: in 2003, David Mitchell’s editorial contact at the US branch of Random House moved from the publisher, leaving the American edition of Cloud Atlas (2004) without an editor for approximately three months. Meanwhile, the UK edition of the manuscript was undergoing a series of editorial changes and rewrites that were never synchronised back into the US edition of the text. When the process was resumed at Random House under the editorial guidance of David Ebershoff, changes from New York were likewise not imported back into the UK edition. In the section entitled ‘An Orison of Sonmi~451’ these desynchronised rewritings are nearly total at the level of linguistic expression between UK and US paperbacks/electronic editions and there are a range of sub-episodes that only feature in one or other of the published editions.
If you wish to download the article and its supplementary files directly from this site, please also find a set of links here:
- Article full text
- Appendix A: Textual Variants of Cloud Atlas
- Appendix B: A note on the Cloud Atlas variant JSON data and question/response mapping
- Appendix C: Cloud Atlas variant JSON data
The software that I wrote (derived from D3.js) that produced the Sankey visualizations in the article is available on Github.