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'Slaves of the successful century'? : Ideas of identity in Joseph Conrad and Alun Lewis

Hendon, Stephen 2010. 'Slaves of the successful century'? : Ideas of identity in Joseph Conrad and Alun Lewis. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Abstract

This thesis is postcolonial in approach, and comparative in method. It examines a number of texts by Joseph Conrad and Alun Lewis, authors who, because of their origins;respectively, Polish and Welshh;were ambivalently associated with the dominant discourse of imperialism. Their occupations; Conrad was a merchant seaman, Lewis an Army officer; implicated them in regimes that regarded them as 'Other'. Their narratives represent insider-outsider positions that are pertinent to the periods of imperial uncertainty in which they were written: in Conrad's case, at the fin-de-siecle, and in Lewis's, in the 1930s and 1940s. The principal stories examined are Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and Lewis's 'The Orange Grove', both of which have biographical bases. Following a Review of the Critical Field, Chapter 1, 'Biography and Culture', discusses the displacements of the authors' upbringings and subsequent careers, including Conrad's employment with an imperial trading company in the Congo, and Lewis's position as a soldier in war-time India, showing how this biographical and colonial context informs the authors' works. Chapter 2 begins the comparative analyses, including consideration of texts by other writers. It concerns the potentially 'enslaving' effect of pedagogical discourses of Anglicization. Texts by the Welsh-bom explorer, Henry M. Stanley, and the Jewish-Welsh writer, Lily Tobias are compared to Conrad's novella, The Nigger of the "Narcissus",and two stories by Lewis. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on texts that deconstruct the fixities of imperial and gender identity by means of performative narratives. Through comparisons with stories by Rudyard Kipling, it is demonstrated that Heart of Darkness and Lewis's 'Indian' texts increasingly represent complex 'double narratives' of empire. These chapters address issues of hybridization, irresolvable identity, and migratory 'statelessness', concluding that the writings of Conrad and Lewis illuminate conflictual, modern ideas of identity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
ISBN: 9781303195549
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 05:52
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/54366

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