"You have to keep track of your changes": The Version Variants and Publishing History of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas

Martin Paul Eve
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
more » ... se 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. Within the constraints of copyright on contemporary fiction, this article sets out this textual variance and visually plots the re-ordering and re-writing of the Sonmi section of the novel across versions. Further to this, I also signal here a number of reasons why critics might need to consider the production processes of contemporary fiction in order to deal with the multiple and different editions of this text and other contemporary novels.
doi:10.17613/m63s4h fatcat:ppglgpdasfbyze6rz3hna4nada