The Poetics of Cultural Depair
This chapter examines Conrad's discursive strategy as a mode of anarchist practice enabled by the Romantic context. Against the familiar reading of Conrad's irony as a distancing strategy or as a corrosive tactic which does not allow for an authorial ethical stance, the chapter offers a reading of Conrad's ironic mode of writing in ‘The Informer’ and in related stories like ‘An Anarchist’ and ‘An Outpost of Progress’ as a cognitive structure of subjectivity, related to questions of complicity and agency and motivated by a sense of moral outrage. It is the Romantic sense of an ‘explanatory collapse’ which triggers the use of irony not as a rhetorical device, but as an intensely self-reflective mode of subjectivity which constantly undermines and transcends itself.
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