Youth/Death: Schreiner and Conrad in the Contact Zone
Chapter 3 reexamines Schreiner's African Farm and Conrad's Lord Jim as texts of the global/colonial frontier whose stunted protagonists point to an uneasy grafting of world-historical knowledge into an older national-historical model of the realist bildungsroman. What is presented to readers in these texts as an immediate and often moving set of unresolvable existential or social conflicts also indexes the structuring contradiction between an imperial ethos of worldwide modernization and the stubborn facts of uneven and under-development in the colonial periphery. Such a double crisis is definitive of Conrad's and Schreiner's relationship both to emergent modernist form and to the New Imperialism. As the model of national-industrial emergence becomes obsolete in Europe, and is barely emergent in the global south, the novel of unseasonable youth registers the faltering power of the nationhood-adulthood allegory to give shape to historical time and to social transformation.
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