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The Strange Short Fiction of Joseph ConradWriting, Culture, and Subjectivity$
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Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198184997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184997.001.0001

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The Poetics of Cultural Depair

The Poetics of Cultural Depair

(p.109) 3 The Poetics of Cultural Depair
The Strange Short Fiction of Joseph Conrad

Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   Romanticism, The Informer, An Anarchist, An Outpost of Progress

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