A Stranger at Home, At Home Among Strangers: Joseph Conrad as an Expatriate Writer

by Voitkovska, Ludmilla

Abstract (Summary)
The present dissertation establishes Joseph Conrad's expatriation archetypes and examines them as they manifest themselves not only in a realistic, but, more importantly, in a symbolic mode.

Chapter One establishes the exilic paradigm and suggests the methodology of approaching Conrad's writing as an expatriate text. This chapter describes the complex and ambivalent impact of expatriation on the human psyche which is the result of incompatibility with one's own culture. Expatriacy, therefore, puts the writer in the web of very complex relationships not only with the parent, but also with the adopted culture into which he/she never fully assimilates.

Chapters Two and Three, considering the narrative structure of Conrad's novels Lord Jim and Under Western Eyes, examine his fiction as a critical discourse in the context of expatriation. Lord Jim dramatizes the relationship between the expatriate writer and the reader from the parent culture, whereas Under Western Eyes mirrors the relationship between the expatriate writer and the reader from the adopted culture.

Chapter Four explores Conrad's expatrial thematic choices and symbolic patterns in Nostromo. This novel, dramatizing the expatriate writer's homecoming, is demonstrative of Conrad's treatment of the relationships between the expatriate writer and the parent culture in both realistic and symbolic modes.

Chapter Five, researching some formal aspects of Conrad's narrative in the novelistic doubles The Secret Sharer and Under Western Eyes, analyzes duplicity as the major structural pattern of his fiction. It delineates the idea that Conrad's doubles, representing the clash of cultures, mirror the social conflicts.

This dissertation reveals the existence of at least twelve expatriation archetypes in Conrad's major novels, which can be successfully traced in his other works. The existence of these obvious patterns in Conrad's fiction demands a reassessment of current critical debate concerning the place of the author in his/her own narrative and presents a significant reinterpretation of Conrad. The major post-structuralist premise that the text belongs to the language and not the author is challenged by the existence of expatriation archetypes in Conrad's narrative. The text of the writer who uses English as a second language (in Conrad's case his third) is informed to a great extent by the primary culture with its distinct concepts, codes, myths, and forms of linguistic expression.

The examination of Conrad's expatrial discourse, therefore, showing the powerful impact of the cultural forces which contribute to the formation of the author and then, in turn, transmutate into the literary patterns, calls for reviving the author, returning him to the critical frame of reference, and redefining him as a cultural construct. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Calder, Robert L.

School:University of Saskatchewan

School Location:Canada - Saskatchewan

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:no keywords supplied


Date of Publication:01/01/1999

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