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Joseph Conrad and the Anthropological Dilemma‘Bewildered Traveller’$
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John W. Griffith

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198183006

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198183006.001.0001

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Transcultural Identification: The Anthropological Dilemma in Heart of Darkness and Victorian Anthropology

Transcultural Identification: The Anthropological Dilemma in Heart of Darkness and Victorian Anthropology

Chapter:
(p.13) 1 Transcultural Identification: The Anthropological Dilemma in Heart of Darkness and Victorian Anthropology
Source:
Joseph Conrad and the Anthropological Dilemma
Author(s):

John W. Griffith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198183006.003.0002

This chapter contextualizes Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in relation to both Victorian and contemporary anthropology and travel writing. Critics have argued that Conrad understood little of the Congo to which he travelled; however, we must question to what extent a clear understanding would have been possible. If an objective understanding of a foreign culture is virtually impossible, by what standards of transcultural identification or cultural relativism are we judging Conrad’s Heart of Darkness? We must be careful neither to overemphasize nor underrate the problem of bridging cultural divides. This problem is even more crucial to the argument in that Conrad’s work is often seen to be at the centre of this dilemma in the modernist Weltanschauung.

Keywords:   Joseph Conrad, Victorian period, anthropology, travel writing, Weltanschauung

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