1st Edition

Conrad's Narratives of Difference Not Exactly Tales for Boys

By Lissa Schneider Copyright 2003
    175 Pages
    by Routledge

    175 Pages
    by Routledge

    In Joseph Conrad’s tales, representations of women and of "feminine" generic forms like the romance are often present in fugitive ways. Conrad’s use of allegorical feminine imagery, fleet or deferred introductions of female characters, and hybrid generic structures that combine features of "masculine" tales of adventure and intrigue and "feminine" dramas of love or domesticity are among the subjects of this literary study. Many of Conrad’s critics have argued that Conrad’s fictions are aesthetically flawed by the inclusion of women and love plots; thus Thomas Moser has questioned why Conrad did not "cut them out altogether." Yet a thematics of gender suffuses Conrad’s narrative strategies. Even in tales that contain no significant female characters or obvious love plots, Conrad introduces elusive feminine presences, in relationships between men, as well as in men’s relationships to their ship, the sea, a shore breeze, or even in the gendered embrace of death. This book investigates an identifiably feminine "point of view" which is present in fugitive ways throughout Conrad’s canon. Conrad’s narrative strategies are articulated through a language of sexual difference that provides the vocabulary and grammar for tales examining European class, racial, and gender paradigms to provide acute and, at times, equivocal investigations of femininity and difference.

    Introduction: Not Exactly Tales for Boys  1. Iconography and the Feminine Ideal: Torches, Blindfolds, and the "true light of femininity" in Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, The Rescue, and "The Return"  2. Plots and Performance: Conrad's "tricks with girls" in "Freya of the Seven Isles," Under Western Eyes, An Outcast of the Islands, and The Rescue  3. Colonial Occupations: Race and Gender in "An Outpost of Progress" and The Nigger of the "Narcissus"  4. Politics in the House: Genre, Narrative, and the Domestic Drama in The Secret Agent, Heart of Darkness, and Lord Jim  Coda: Narrative, Femininity, Death


    Lissa Schneider-Rebozo is Associate Professor of English and Director of Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity at University of Wisconsin, River Falls, USA.

    Honorable Mention, 2005, for the Adam Gillon Book Prize.

    'Schneider offers original readings of a number of Conrad’s works. Her thesis—that Conrad challenges hierarchical power in ‘fugitive ways’ through his depictions of difference, particularly gender--is a bold one since it contradicts the critical commonplaces that Conrad was a social conservative and a misogynist. Schneider makes a compelling case, one likely to prompt even the most traditional Conradians to reconsider their assumptions about Conrad and his work.' -Tom Henthorne, Studies in the Novel

    'The frequently quoted letters between Conrad and Garnett concerning Conrad’s intentions and methods are fascinating, and the book’s best feature, along with a clear direct approach.' -Lorrie Clark, English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, Vol. 48, Num. 4