“We Are Making One Story, Yes?” - The Poetics of Interconnection in Postmodern Literature in a Global Age


  • Miriam Wallraven Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany




literature in a global age, cosmopolitanism, interconnection, postmodernism, metafiction


During the last decades, theories of interconnection and linking have been in the centre of many academic discourses: what goes back to the ancient hermetic worldview that regards everything as connected has been taken up in studies on our globalised world, for example as relationality in the form of cosmodernism. Thus, society has been regarded as linked in areas as different as social networks or globalised markets. In this paper, it is shown how such interconnections are created by storytelling. For this purpose, three metafictional novels with a multiplot structure are analysed. In Jonathan Safran Foer's novel Everything is Illuminated (2002), storytelling helps two very different characters to search for their identity and a traumatic family past influenced by the Holocaust. In the novel, three textual levels and several narrators make it visible that the search for identity and the past is only possible by interlinked stories and a process of co-authorship. The intricate structure of Catherynne M. Valente's fantastic novel Palimpsest (2009) thematises the connection between human beings and their stories which even spans different worlds. Metafictional structures – especially the structure of the palimpsest – illustrate how the whole world consists of stories written on other stories. David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas (2004) consists of six narratives set in different times and places which are connected by symbols, intertextual links, or intermedial adaptations. Hence, in the novel it is shown that despite wars, violence, and the struggle for power throughout history, human beings are connected across time and space – by their stories. By analysing these literary devices, a postmodern poetics of interconnection becomes visible that shows how human history is created by transglobal storytelling.