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The
Joseph Conrad
Foundation

BOOK REVIEWS


ST. MARTIN'S PRESS CONRADS: The new St. Martin's Press catalog says of Linda Dryden's Joseph Conrad and the Imperial Romance (which Mary Morzinski of the University of Wisconsin - LaCrosse is reviewing for CONRAD CONCEPTS) that the author

"...places Almayer's Folly, An Outcast of the Islands, "Karain" and Lord Jim in the context of the 19th-century imperial romance. Through the thwarted dreams and aspirations of his central characters, she argues that Conrad exposes the empty promises of such fiction and challenges assumptions about the superiority of European imperialists and the imperial venture itself. Dryden demonstrates how Conrad's Malay fiction alludes to the conventions and stereotypes of popular imperial fiction."
Of Andrea Michael Roberts' Conrad and Masculinity the catalog says,
"This timely study offers a radical rereading of Conrad's work in the light of contemporary theories of masculinity. Drawing on feminism, gay studies, film theory and literary theory, the author shows that Conrad's fiction, even as it reflects certain assumptions of its day about gender roles, offers striking insights into the instability of the 'masculine.' The book explores the relationship of masculinity with imperialism, modernity, the visual and the body in a wide range of Conrad's less-known fiction."
The third Conrad study in the catalog is Beth Sharon Ash's Writing in Between: Modernity and Psychosocial Dilemma in the Novels of Joseph Conrad, which
"...develops an important theoretical framework for interpreting Conrad's signal texts and his situation as an author. Using relational psychoanalysis, Ash reinserts into the literary conversation the idea of the psychologically inflected subject. Organized around the thematics of unfinished mourning, this book carefully positions Conrad as a writer caught 'in between,' as both a figure of alienation critically disenchanted with British imperialism, and an orphan of genius desperately desiring a fit with his adopted culture."
We have requested more detailed statements about the two latter books plus review copies. Readers with special interest in these approaches to Conrad studies are invited to volunteer for writing the reviews.



RACISM REDUX: Peter Edgerly Firchow, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, has published Envisioning Africa: Racism and Imperialism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" (December, 1999, University of Kentucky Press, 288 pp., $34.95 in hardcover, no paperback listed), We do not yet have a review but pro tempore offer the blurb from the press website.
"During the last decade or so, Heart of Darkness has assumed the status of a politically controversial text. It has been repudiated as racist and interpreted as an apology for imperialism and colonialism. Firchow's book successfully counters these accusations and offers a far more nuanced reading of Conrad's narrative." Avrom Fleishman, Johns Hopkins University.
For one hundred years, Heart of Darkness has been among the most widely read and taught novels in the English language. Hailed as an incisive indictment of European imperialism in Africa upon its publication in 1899, more recently it has been repeatedly denounced as racist and imperialist.
Peter Firchow counters these claims, and his rational, carefully argued response allows the charges of Conrad's alleged bias to be evaluated as objectively as possible. He begins by contrasting the meanings of race, racism, and imperialism in Conrad's day to those of our own time. Firchow then reminds us that Heart of Darkness is a novel rather than a sociological treatise; only in relation to its aesthetic significance can real social and intellectual-historical meaning be established.
Envisioning Africa responds in detail to negative interpretations of the novel by revealing what they distort, misconstrue, or fail to take into account. Firchow uses a framework of imagology to examine how national, ethnic, and racial images are portrayed in the text, differentiating the idea of a national stereotype from that of national character. He believes that what Conrad saw personally in Africa should not be confused with the Africa he describes in the novel; Heart of Darkness is instead an envisioning and a revisioning of Conrad's experiences in the medium of fiction.


Polish Conrad Bibliography:

After 17 years of working on the book Wanda Perczak, a librarian at the Nicolas Copernicus University in Torun, Poland, has published a limited edition bibliography of thousands of Polish works on Conrad which is to be reviewed in the next issue of Concepts and of which an English language gloss is to be made available through Conrad Books in the near future.




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